Archive for the ‘Letters from the Heretic’ Category

Is Astrology for Real?

Letters from the Heretic, Spirituality | Posted by Kim
Mar 11 2016

How to Forecast a Better Future with Astrology

I was born in summer, in a seaside sailing town where the people navigated their lives according to the tides and winds as much as by the calendar and clock. The sun was in Virgo, the moon was in a new phase and it was a Friday.

When technology develops so scientists can take a holograph of the gravitational waves between planets and stars, it will look like this flower. ~from Flower Essences by Gurudas, referring to Shooting Star flower.

What else was influencing the environment on my birthday? What gathering of clouds, bird migration patterns,  planets spinning and moons orbiting would have steered the conversations and moods, the pulling and pushing, the lifting and setting–of power poles, root balls, lathes, saw blades, light switches, of pen to paper and voting machine levers (I was born on Women’s Suffrage Day)–on the day of my birth?  How many other thought vibrations and holographic forms coursed through the planet and into the heavens during, not only my birth, but from that single moment of my conception?

Some people say it’s a phony science at best. But astrological forecasting is neither superstition nor fortunetelling. In fact, astrology is as much science as it is art.

In current times, retro and vintage, #ThrowbackThursdays and yesteryear, remembrance and recollection seem to be the new modern. One thing that’s never gone out of style throughout the ages however is astrology. People have been looking to the stars, or steering the collective thinking away from them, for some semblance of structure and order in a chaotic universe since ancient times.

I spoke with budding astrologer and Philadelphia based artist Sam Whalen about how astrology can help you know yourself better, improve your relationships and your life.

HH: How did you first come to learn about astrology?

SW: I first became acquainted with astrology through a silly CosmoGirl book I had gotten at an elementary book fair. This was the first time I became aware of the zodiac and the 12 archetypes and I would look at the Aquarius section and be really upset that my power color was electric blue and not pink. I didn’t really begin delving deep into understanding the mathematics and the nuances to the zodiac until I was around 21 and someone prompted me to get my natal chart done. That was really pivotal. From that point, I began charting everyone around me and found some hard to ignore patterns. I’ve been examining those patterns (plus new ones) ever since then. I’ve always been really interested in archetypes and astrology is deeply rooted in understanding how all archetypes work together to create a harmonious whole.

HH: What are your favorite astrology books or astrologers?

SW: A lot of my astrological research starts by mining the internet. Typically I start with to get a base understanding of what I am trying to understand/connect to. Then I go through other sources and compare interpretations. Currently, my favorite astrology is Chani Nicholas. Her interpretations and predictions are always spot on. I highly recommend signing up for her newsletter. A good friend of mine lent me Sextrology by Cox Starsky, Quinn Cox and Stella Starsky. While it’s more focused on sex and relationships, that’s typically one of the biggest issues people turn to astrology for help with. It also presents way more information about each sign than just what pertains to that subject. 

HH: What do you find are some of the most common misconceptions about astrology?

SW: I’ve been watching a lot of videos about the science behind astrology – about quantum mechanics and how particles interact with each other. I think so many people don’t find validity in it because our culture tries so hard to remove itself from nature. We think we are separate or above rhythms and we aren’t!

HH: So, when we talk about “astrological forecasts” we really are referring to something akin to a cosmological weather forecast.

SW: Weather plays a large role in our development, health, and general well being. And what controls weather, where does all weather play out? The sky!

I also think many people view astrology as deterministic rather than as heuristic. Astrology can provide a really important outlet for self reflection and that (at the end of the day) is the most important aspect of it. You are faced with a handful of characteristics about yourself and you either say, “Yes, that reflects me,” or “No, I am not like that.” Ultimately you are illuminating parts of your character that you might otherwise overlook. 

HH: It’s a common perception that astrology is a sham practice based on superstition and the occult. But astrology is neither superstition nor fortune telling. It’s as much science as it is art.

SW: Astrology charting and interpreting is actually quite mathematical. The stars don’t predict or control behavior, no. But they do serve as a visual map that reflects the cycles and rhythms of the seasons that most certainly do impact the soul and psyche of the society dwelling beneath those dark starry skies.

HH: Zodiacal constellations are not predictive so much as they are indicative. Would you agree? Where did people get the idea that the stars ‘rule’ or can predict the outcome of one’s life? If you look up the definition of astrology you get: the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. But ‘having an influence’ is a misrepresentation.

SW: I am still learning about all the various applications of astrology in one’s life but my understanding is that horoscopes, which are general ‘predictions,’ are where we get this misconception that the stars rule us. The idea behind a horoscope is that since the celestial bodies are on pretty determined paths in relation to the earth, they have the same interactions and aspects at (typically) the same times of the day, week, month, years, etc. So if you know the planets and constellations orbits, then you can predict what the astrological atmosphere will be at a certain time based on reports of what has happened in the past and characteristics associated with the planets and stars. I like to use the word “atmosphere” instead. Because, just because there is the potential for major activity doesn’t mean there always will be. It makes a person more aware of their ultimate free will to cultivate the character and life they wish to live within the boundaries of the astrological environment they are both born into and operating within.

HH: The zodiacal constellations, along with the Earth’s astronomical and cosmological phenomena, is like an illustrated map of creation’s timeline. Just as the seasons change and the earth’s axis tilts and planets orbit around each other…so does human behavior often follow a predictable or reliable story line. 

SW: I agree. I also want to add that there are only so many baseline characteristics that exist in the world. For me, as an artist, it is easy to relate this idea to color mixing. Just like there is basic blue – there is basic (this is a negative example but stay with me here) evil. Then there is teal, powder blue, periwinkle just as there is malicious, sadistic, hateful, corrupt…

Tying this back into misconceptions about astrology; people think that they are just their sun signs and don’t realize that they are a combination of 24 signs and it’s rare, if not impossible, to only have a total concentration of one. This is how we can have 12 base archetypes yet a multitude of unique personalities.

HH: Some, like Carl Sagan on his views about astrology, also argue that the heavenly map changes and is therefore unreliable. But so do our world maps. As countries change names, nations divide or merge, so does the information in our world atlas. Our maps reflect our history.

SW: My interest lies more in the personal (natal chats and how that shapes the way we navigate the world). Therefore I am not particularly well versed in how astrological phenomenons effect communities as a whole – this is next on my list of things to explore further. Aspects play a big role in how the energetic potential of a sign/planet manifest in individual charts. 

Beginning in March, Sam will be doing natal and synastry (relationships) zodiac charts for a small fee. Each chart comes with an illustration totem that is specific to the chart! More information can be be found at Maple-Seed-knocked out



Circle Game & The Mayan Prophecy for 2012

Letters from the Heretic, Radical Rants | Posted by Kim
Oct 29 2015

Clocks, globes, seasons, circadian rhythms. We cycle through our world and the world encircles us. Have neither hope nor fear of 2012 for the world cannot end, as a circle is endless.

We may end our relationship to the natural world by our own hand come December 21, 2012, but just keep in mind things penciled in on calendars can be erased.

What the idea of a Mayan prophecy of end times really represents for this heretic are some grand opportunities for growth and breaking through, once and for all, negative patterns and cycles.

Remember those exercises you were given in college or journaling groups to list out all those things you’d do if you knew you only had a year to live? The idea of course was to awaken yourself to your goals and desires, hopefully to the point that you’d stop postponing your life. Only problem with it all was there was no guarantee one would not live to suffer the consequences of ditching daily obligations for more heady experiences. Quitting jobs, spending savings for that sail around the world.

The prospect of 2012 offers a different kind of life insurance. Why not expect, instead of the end of the world as you know it, the end of how you know yourself? Your negative habits and relationships. Make a vow that your old self will die into a new you. Get to work on it now and by next December, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to have a whole new list of people on your holiday shopping list.

Still think the world is going to hell in a hand basket? 2012 is the perfect time to sign up for that basket weaving course you’ve wanted. I bet there will even be some spectcular discounts on day planners to write in your class schedule.

Powerfully Potent Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Letters from the Heretic, Recipes, Spirituality, The Kitchen Witch | Posted by Kim
Nov 01 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are rich in fiber, vitamins A and C, manganese, potassium and zinc, protein and Omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Rinse seeds well in a colander to remove strings and pulp and soak them in salt water overnight for better taste.

Pat dry.

Season with a light coating of grapeseed, olive or coconut oil and toss to coat evenly.

Sprinkle with your choice of turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, clove or herbs such as nettle, thyme or tarragon.

Add sea salt.

Place seeds on a baking sheet, giving them space for thorough baking.

Bake at 300 degrees  45 minutes to an hour, or until crispy or golden.

Great for snacks, trail mix or sprinkled on salads or omelettes.

Finding Your True Career Along the Eightfold Path

Energy Medicine, Letters from the Heretic | Posted by Kim
Oct 11 2012

Dear Readers,

I’ve been on safari these past few months, navigating the miasma that is the jungle of the job hunt. I’m back with the bounty of my forage. You can read all about it here in my post about right livelihood.


From the Sacred to the Profane in 30 Seconds Flat – Notes From the Vortex

Letters from the Heretic, Radical Rants, Spirituality | Posted by Kim
Mar 25 2012

Say what you will about astrology but I’ve found too many accuracies, had so many rich experiences come to fruition as predicted in astrological readings and horoscopes to think there’s nothing to it. A friend told me all about New Moon Wishing a while back.  She even gave me Jan Spiller’s book on the subject, New Moon Astrology, as a gift a couple of years ago. Each month the New Moon correlates to an astrological sign and meditating on the qualities of that sign lend the highest potency to one’s wishes. I have had varying degrees of success in realizing my wishes over the years. In March the New Moon is in Aries and is about new beginnings. But, Jan warns, Mercury is also retrograde so she advises on her website to take extra care to communicate clearly and meaningfully when writing down wishes this month.

Not only I am in deep need of renewal this month, but my ruling planet is Mercury. So, imagine my excitement when I found myself in Sedona, Arizona this week with an opportunity to hike one of the area’s vortexes. I set my alarm, with two alerts, to be sure I was sitting on a ledge on Bell Rock, my pen and wishing journal in hand, within the first eight hours (when the energy is most potent) after the new moon, meditating on the wording and spirit of my wishes. I was going to use the power of the new moon and the magnetism of Bell Rock’s iron rich earth to put some super strength muscle into removing some particularly stubborn karmic stains in my life.

The morning was clear and cool and traffic on the trails was sparse so quiet was plentiful. With a blue sky above me and the red earth under my half lotus seated body, I settle onto a wide flat rock and give myself over to well considered thought, asking the earth and the sky to help me with my delicate task of well worded wishes. Time and time again I’ve learned that the universe takes things literally so I wanted to place my order with the Life Cafe just right. Beside me I find a detached cactus leaf. I gently poke its spines  against my fingertips, tapping into some chi before setting it next to me to stand sentinel over my journal. New Moon wishing guidelines suggest no more than ten wishes, hand written on a piece of paper, per day. I pace myself, taking time to meditate, stretch and breathe between my wishes. I find myself still struggling with wording; between invocations that leave room for infinite possibility and creative imagination and pragmatism. Between direct requests and thoughts that betray my unconscious unworthiness. At eight down and two to go I set my favorite pen in the crook of my journal and leave my seat. I notice a gentleman wandering the rocks a few yards ahead of me. He approaches me and asks directions for taking the trail to the top of the rock. Nodding toward my journal he inquires if I am writing a novel. I smile and eagerly explain that it is the new moon and what an exciting time I am having of it. “The new moon is for increasing things you want in your life,” we talk over each other affirmatively. Then he asks what about full moons? We both agree it’s a time for wishing for those negative things, bad habits and unhealthy relationships to leave our lives. Do I give equal time to Full Moon wishing, my new friend wants to know. In that moment, when one is tasked with stuffing volumes of thought, experience and explanation into that impossibly small space of time only a brief crossing of paths with a stranger can create, I stumble over my words to let him know that I’ve only been studying and, as far as I know is practiced, the New Moon. “Oh,” he quips. “Does that mean you are perfect?” he demands smarmily as he tracks across the trail toward the base. I laugh nervously as I glance longingly at my journal and my cactus talisman. My peace is broken. Confusion gathers around my head and something akin to anger rises in my belly. I’m at communication odds with this male stranger. Wires are crossing and sparks, the bad kind, are flying. All my anxiety about saying the right thing—not being heard, fear of misinterpretation and its consequences—come tumbling down what just before had been my calmed mind, cleared by careful in breath and out breath. Now my mental  pathway was littered with the debris of conflict and self doubt. It’s so much easier to talk to rocks than it is to human beings, I think wearily. “Let’s just say resolved,” I answer to his retreating figure as I head back to my journal. Taking inventory of my emotions, I am surprised to admit that, actually, I feel like slugging the guy. I imagine hurling my spiny cactus leaf straight across the red rocks and beaning him with it.  How did I get into this argument, albeit mostly on an energetic level, with another soul when just a few seconds ago I was sitting here, on Bell Rock, happily minding my own business? So much for sacred space. Then I pick up my pen and smile. That, I remind myself, was a Virgo Sun and Mercury retrograde classic. With both feet planted firmly on the earth now, I write out my last two wishes, carefully, in no uncertain terms.

Class Action Lawsuits: 7 Insider Tips

Letters from the Heretic, Radical Rants | Posted by Kim
Feb 01 2012

Insider Tips From a Data Entry Clerk

I am here to report from Class Action Lawsuit Data Entry World. The place where those forms-cum-confessors, cum-rants against the collective machine are processed.

After several grueling weeks, spiced with both day shift and swing shift assignments (can you hear the crickets?), I have some practical information about the dos and don’ts of filling out those class action lawsuit forms you’ve received in the mail.

When you mail in your class action form, here’s what happens to it:  It is received at a giant, airplane hanger type office building where it gets date stamped, scanned into a computer and passed along to the drudges in data processing whose job it is to pull up the scanned form on their computer screens, set it side by side with a pre-formatted form and transfer all of your answers into the database form. Although your scribbles outside the lines undoubtedly make you feel better, and do provide momentary relief from our tedium, understand that we drones are powerless beyond belief to do a gosh darned thing about it.

It’s like screaming into space. You will get more satisfaction from planting some marigolds after mailing in your form than you will from over-analyzing and second guessing what you wrote on your form.

  1. First of all, I’m serious here. Listen to me. If you want your reward, your recompense, your justice, write your phone number, address, email and social security number legibly. If you don’t know how to spell, or you have a shaky hand, be it from a self-imposed neuro-toxin or some other misfortune, get someone else to fill out the form for you.
  2. Write your trials and tribulations; rant away all you want in the margins, addendum and on the  return envelope. Nobody but the poor stiff in data entry who is chained to her keyboard is going to read it. Know this.
  3. If I can’t read your phone number, name, address, social security number or email address, how do you expect the corporate lawsuits who invited you to hop on board this grievous gravy train to give you your due?
  4. I want you to think Judge Judy now and “Just answer the question! Yes or No?” On your form there will be check boxes and spaces for writing your answer. If it is a yes or no question, check Yes or No. Do not write N/A. Don’t draw an extra box because you are having some existential crisis you want the reviewer to consider. The only person reading it is the data entry clerk who is tasked with deciding what you meant. In data entry land we have a code for people like you who check both yes and no, or don’t check any box at all. The code is confidential, but I’m just sayin’. It gets recorded as a big non-answer.
  5. Write information clearly and completely. Don’t get cute and xxxx your social security number, or be clever with your email address.  The days of  jimmying the last two digits of your phone number so he can’t really call  have passed away along with drunken pick-up lines at the disco.
  6. Numeric versus alpha. On your form, when a question asks for numbers, write in numbers; neither words nor convoluted calculus. We have one field that only accepts digits, not alpha answers. If you are asked what value was your account at close of market, for example, give us a solid, bottom line number. 
  7. Regarding narratives. Some questions provide a few lines below them for you to answer, in your own words, how, what, when or where. Just tell us how, what, when or where. With the small gift of address, time frame, names, account numbers, dates. No more.

Chances for your claim being considered valid increase with clarity, concision, legibility and emotional composure.

Good luck and happy litigating.



Things are Coming to Light

Letters from the Heretic | Posted by Kim
Oct 11 2011

Have you noticed lately how many things are being revealed, exposed and coming to light? From the Enron scandal to the Catholic Priest Abuse cases, to  century-old shipwrecks emerging around the world, in lakes and seas, to the unearthed bones of centuries-old lovers, this past decade has been a veritable  Ollie, Ollie Oxen Free for secrets, mysteries and shadows. Even the Dead Sea Scrolls are now online for the world to see!

Social media and the Internet allows connections and communications that, just half a century ago would have taken days, weeks, months; perhaps years, to the point when it was too late and relegated to the Big Cosmic Nevermind, to occur instantly.

I’m ambivalent. Part of me is grateful, so very appreciative of the connections technology has afforded me. Through Facebook I’ve renewed friendships and found new people I never knew would be so important to my life. But it’s also taken some of the fun of suspense and mystery out of life. Fewer chance encounters, less time spent in delicious anticipation or good old fashioned yearning. It’s similar to that subtle wistfulness when coming to the end of a really great mystery novel, or fitting together the final puzzle pieces that reveal the whole picture.

And now, as if we needed things to happen even faster, the neutrino is beating us all to the punch of our cosmic giggle. Perhaps this acceleration toward enlightenment is necessary for the health and healing of our societies and planet. We need to solve our problems and do it fast!

With that in mind, Herbal Heresy’s November issue is dedicated to exploring all things dark and shadowy. From poisonous nightshade plants to the roots of toxic relationships to eye-movement therapy for trauma, it will be chock full of shining insights and pathways to enlightenment!


Mother Earth Wants You to Grow (Up)!

Letters from the Heretic | Posted by Kim
Sep 19 2011

Can you smell those sweet notes? The crisping of the edges of the season always puts me in a half melancholy, half excited state. Releasing the balmy hedonism of summer—the pleasures of expansive daylight, thermal kisses and lower electric bills—to the joys of turning leaves, harvesting and the return to studies and work is always a bittersweet transition. Yet, Autumn is its own reward with its riot of colors, temperate days, and the clinking of canning jars which heralds the call to self-sufficiency, the theme of Herbal Heresy’s October issue.

In this crowded world it’s easy to feel powerless before the powers that be. From hurricanes the “size of Europe” to overbearing government regulations hi-jacking our personal health choices and big agri-business telling us what to eat and how to eat it, there’s plenty to strip away one’s sense of personal autonomy. But the concept of personal powerlessness is a dangerous fallacy. Every person, knowingly or not, wields tremendous influence. And the growing influence of conspiracy and alternative theorists is a growing concern of this heretic. Because, although subterfuge, nefarious doings and mysterious goings on have always been part of the collective social-psychological landscape and, let’s admit it, hold our interest much more than do peace and love, favoring sensational and phantom notions over what is right in front of us is offensive and counter productive. It sabotages the efforts of the problem solvers and denies the suffering of the very real people and things who experience loss. It’s like blocking the ambulance from attending to an accident victim because, hey! that’s not a real human being lying there injured on the street, it’s an alien from Area 51 and they’re trying to whisk it away from us! Although people are entitled to their opinions, one might consider questioning a belief system that holds him hostage to such an oppressive, self-helpless, world view. Salon’s Alexander Cockburn offers some refreshing insight to this exasperating debate in his article The End of Evidence. And, if laughter is the best medicine, get your dose of irony here:

Self-sufficiency is a great antidote to feeling controlled. And Mother Earth could use the break from so many overly dependent children.

Herbal Heresy is a forum for dialogue,  success stories, transforming our adversaries into allies and building bridges to help meet one another on common ground. To prepare for this issue, last week I went out into the real world and, far from finding reasons to despair of impending corporate global domination, I found causes for optimism.

I attended several events in the health and healing field and discovered another trend: A growing movement toward integrating nutrition as medicine and nature as healer. At the Portland VegFest I listened to Dr. Neal Barnard talk about nutrition’s role in preventing disease and how many hospital cafeterias are reinventing their menus to the point that, soon, nobody is going to get the joke about hospital food. I toured one of the many therapeutic gardens in Portland’s hospital system, where the notion of nature as good medicine is taking root. Then I attended Jenna Abernathy’s talk about pleasure and metabolism. It turns out, giving ourselves what we want is a far more effective weight loss plan than hating our bodies. And, if we can stop attacking each other with and over personal food choices, those Weight-of-the-World pounds just might drop right off!

There’s more good news, literally. Last Saturday I opened my newspaper to the story about Bob Moore of Bob’s Red Mill, a natural and organic foods manufacturer, donating $25 million to establish an Institute for Nutrition and Wellness at Oregon Health and Science University, one of the largest teaching hospitals in the country. Seems to me that big medicine is listening and it just goes to prove that big things can happen when you let the little voice out.

Lastly, it’s an old saw; a cliche at this point, that says you can’t make another person change. While that’s true in theory, alternative or otherwise, there is a way, truly, albeit a sneaky back-door approach, to getting another person or group to change their behavior.  You can learn more at, a self-help website about changing family and relationship dysfunction.

So, dear nervous ones, we grounded Earthlings need you to stop believing in the Boogeyman and start believing in yourselves. You’re more powerful than you realize!

Steering the Winds of Change

Letters from the Heretic | Posted by Kim
Aug 29 2011

Hurricane Irene blew by with some major gusto, with life changing damage to some while many more on the eastern seaboard were left unscathed; some even unimpressed. My friend who lives in Connecticut spent a sleepless night before Irene struck north, worrying about her windows breaking. “The news was talking about how the wind might send my apartment’s windows crashing down on me. But then I heard that most apartment buildings have laminated film windows and I wondered if my building had them.” While the media was stirring up panic by announcing a storm system “the size of Europe” with the force to shred highrise windows was coming to town, it would have been helpful to mention that most buildings have safety glass and to check with your building’s owner, she said. But so often fear drives consensus more than it does information.

We switched topics to the merits of a diet of clean, fresh produce versus canned and processed foods. Seems, while my friend was out of the country and away from industrialized foods all last summer, her health really perked up. The conversation led to natural anti-depressants versus pharmaceuticals, and finally to the struggles between self-sufficiency, self-advocacy in healthcare and diet and forced dependence on the conventional healthcare institutions.

I pondered all of it while I enjoyed watching another friend seal the tops of her canning jars at her stove yesterday, and I thought about it some more while I gathered fresh basil, chives and French tarragon from the garden this morning to make a veggie and herb omelet, feeling like the luckiest, most self-sufficient person in the world for the privilege. It was even raining (Yay! I don’t have to water the garden today). 

So, this week Herbal Heresy focuses on issues of self-determination and control–feelings of being controlled, self-control, and things over which one has no control (like badass hurricanes the size of Europe). From some irreverent tips on how to navigate the gauntlet of not-so-helpful advice for your job hunt (The Ten Most Unhelpful Things to Say to the Unemployed) to a D.I.Y. approach to a personal apparel problem to an interview with organic farmer and natural health researcher, Capt. T.C. Randall, e-book author of Forbidden Healing.

Enjoy your week!

Heretically yours,





Plant Medicine for the Planet

Letters from the Heretic, Radical Rants | Posted by Kim
Oct 01 2010

Did you know? Roughly one quarter of commonly used or prescribed pharmaceuticals are either plant-derived or are copies of the plant’s chemical or substance re-named? And that’s only a tiny fraction of the medicinal bounty that grows on the planet.

There is so much contention between the conventional medical community and holistic practitioners one would think they don’t share the same planet.

We’ve all been there, sitting with a medical doctor, trying to discuss less invasive, less expensive or more effective natural remedies, only to have Dr. Whitecoat’s lip lift into a sneer or wave his hand in dismissal. (Quick. Take my blood pressure now!)

The staunch resistance to herbal medicines in the conventional medical community is well publicized. Here is what Stephen Barrett, M.D., self admitted skeptic of nutrition’s role in individual well being, says about integrative nutrition and bio-individuality: “…how people feel can be extremely variable and is not usually related to food intake.” His contempt for preventative health and natural healing are palpable in his views.

Food is not neutral. Food contains chemicals that interact with our bodies’ chemistry and directly impact digestion and assimilation. A peanut may be all the same to itself, but anyone with a peanut allergy will have a decidedly un-neutral reaction it.  Just as with snowflakes, one can look at any garden and see that no two plants, fruits or vegetables are ever the same size or shape. Studies come and go and are so often contradictory to previous research,  better to let one’s own experience, your body’s response, be the most reliable ‘control.’

Let’s Put Up a Phyt

Our health flows from the same source.

To say pharmaceuticals are superior to herbals is like saying H2O is better than water. Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. In other words, phytochemicals. The crucial majority of plants used for medicine come from the tropical rainforest.

One quarter of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, yet fewer than one percent of these tropical trees and plants have been tested or honestly scrutinized by medical scientists. That’s a lot of hidden phytochemical and phytonutrient treasure not being excavated. Hard to imagine? Think how your voluminous Gmail inbox still only manages to use an average of 0% of your allotted bytes.

Meanwhile, research studies calculate an estimated 137 rainforest plant, animal and insect species are lost every day because of deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year. As the rainforest species disappear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases.

Rainforest plants are rich in secondary metabolites, particularly alkaloids, the key ingredient to protecting plants from disease and harmful insects. Many alkaloids from higher plants have proven medicinal value and benefit. One hectare (2.47 acres) of rainforest may contain more than 750 types of trees and 1,500 species of higher plants.

If a dinner party guest were to rifle through your bathroom medicine cabinet and steal your prescription drugs you’d notice, right? Well, deforestation is bulldozing nature’s apothecary.

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has identified 3,000 plants that are active against cancer cells. Seventy percent of these plants are found in the rainforest. Twenty-five percent of the active ingredients in today’s cancer-fighting drugs come from organisms found only in the rainforest.

Vincristine, extracted from the rainforest plant periwinkle, is FDA approved and acknowledged as a powerful anti-cancer drug. It has dramatically increased the survival rate for acute childhood leukemia since its discovery.

Not to be discouraged. Let’s advocate for our own health and take every opportunity to open a dialogue –between all allopathic and naturopathic practitioners– that will find us, not only on the same page, but on the same planet.