Naturopathic health in the trenches / august 2010
A monthly health diary by Katherine Willow, ND

Recently I had an interesting experience with an herb from India with which I’ve been experimenting to improve my memory, Holy Basil.  It has a long and deep history of helping mental symptoms and I was curious to see how it would work for me.

After three weeks of a low dose I hadn’t noticed any change.  Then it came time to help my boyfriend Stephen type his term paper for a university course he was taking.  It was 20 pages long and took until 1am to type into the computer.

It was 20 pages long and took until 1am to type into the computer.  If you know me personally, you’ll realize this is WAY beyond my usual bedtime.  Yet my mind was gently sharp and focussed, not wired, not exhausted.  I was pleased.

Then I lost the paper into cyberspace.  I spent the next 1 ½ hours searching for it, including emailing everyone I knew who might be able to help, trying unsuccessfully to contact software experts who might be burning the midnight oil and searching all the nooks and crannies I could possibly think of on my laptop.  The paper was totally gone.  And the submission deadline was 9am that morning and not negotiable; a fellow student had already tried to extend it.

And then Felix, my 22 month old grandson who I am caretaking, uncharacteristically woke up and wanted a bottle and some play time!  Usually I would be stressed by all of this, but my mind remained calm and focussed.  I warmed up a bottle of raw cow’s milk from our cowshare mixed with some Edensoy fermented rice soymilk and water, fed Felix, changed his diaper and crooned him back to sleep.  Still calm and amazed, I sat back down and retyped the paper into the computer—properly this time.  We sent it in at 8:58am .  It was my first all-nighter in a long while!

The best part was being able to function all that day and being able to attend Herbfest the day after, reading people’s irises and tongues at our booth with total concentration.  I never did crash as I normally would have even after a late night.

In the meantime, I have noticed improvement in my ability to concentrate during meditation although I’m not sure if I’m remembering better yet.  I still forget people’s names and embarrassingly also their faces, but I think this is more about social anxiety than brain function…  Needless to say I’ll continue the experiment and don’t be surprised if Holy Basil is on some of your suggestion lists in the future!

Other than that, Felix and I have moved back to the Ridge, both of us greatly enjoying the luscious natural surroundings.  Felix likes to forage in the middle of the scratchy wild raspberry patch beside our house, even in his bare feet.  And he makes frequent forays to the summer camp groups and the Forest Preschool, where he is received with kindness by the older children.

We are fortunate to have found Lindsay, a young woman who just graduated from teacher’s college and an early childhood education program, to take care of Felix during the day.  Our plans are to start a cooperative home school at our house with instruction in the holistic ways of living and thinking that underlie a sustainable society for our children’s future.

Feel free to contact me if you are interested in this and have a good rest of your summer!

~ Katherine Willow ND