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March 2020

Join us for a virtual tour of our Western Reserve Herb Society Gardens!

 

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We were so fortunate last year to have had beautiful videos made of our gorgeous herb gardens that we lovingly tend down at The Cleveland Botanical Gardens. We are closed right now due to Covid -19, but this gives us the perfect opportunity to show these off! I'll be putting a new one up every couple of days! 

Be safe and be well! Spring in it's full glory is coming soon!

Beth Schreibman Gehring Chairman of Education- Western Reserve Herb Society

Garden Overview - Western Reserve Herb Society from Blue Heron Productions on Vimeo.

 


The Feeling of Gardens to Come....

By Beth Schreibman Gehring -Chairman of Education Western Reserve Herb Society

This was written by my husband Jim one day after he came to pick me up from working in our beautiful Western Reserve Herb gardens. 

Sr Women Gardener3

Strolling through a large garden I found myself captivated by the smile on the Gardener's face, so I stopped for a moment to watch her at work. She looked up at me, stood up-right and in a wonderfully gentle voice she asked "can there be a more lovely day?" Finding myself in the midst of this most colorful garden with a bright blue sky and pleasant warm sunshine I not only agreed, I knew it was true.

"It is indeed just so lovely" I replied.  

I paused for a moment, but eager to keep the conversation going I asked her the first question that came to mind, "What do you do with your time when you are not in this beautiful garden?"

She looked at me and asked, "when am I not in my garden?" as a large grin spread across her cheeks revealing the most wonderful and generous wrinkles of joy.  

"Yes", I said, now feeling even more inspired.  "How about before you fall asleep or when you wake up?" I asked, sincerely wondering how she lived life outside this beautiful place that she obviously took such great pleasure in.

"That just might be the times when I do my best gardening work" she said, relaxing herself for a moment as she engaged me in conversation.  

As she continued I noticed a natural patience in her demeanor, which was easily portrayed by her soft and smooth voice. "Every night just before I fall asleep I am enveloped in the feeling of gardens to come, the one's that express such beauty and joy as I have yet to produce.  I know they are coming, because as I "see" these wonderful visions I can feel them as if they are real, I can smell them and touch them so vividly. They are to me in that moment as real as where you and I are standing right now. “

My mind was mesmerized by this picture she had so gracefully painted for me. My feelings rested contently in this garden vision, full of such beauty that was beyond the glorious place where we were both standing.

Sr Women Gardener4

"Of course, she laughed, my mornings are something else altogether".

 "I awake in the morning and in that moment I am present to a feeling of appreciation for all the joy and wonder that awaits me!"

She paused for a moment, smiling as she looked to the sky…

then looked at me and continued...

"The morning is when my feelings take root, backed by the images that spring forth in my mind, to bear fruit throughout the day, much like the seeds I tend here in this very garden."

"We often refer to it as gratitude, or appreciation, but for me it is like gardening, for when I open my eyes in the morning that is where my craft begins. I know in my heart that to be a good gardener it is so important to tend the soil, and to ensure the seeds have the right amount of sunlight, and always provide the right amount of water based on the unique characteristics of your plants."

She paused again, without a motion, as if to just take in the beauty that comes from an unseen place that at that very moment surrounded us.

"I feel that gardening has given me a gift for creating beauty both here" she said gesturing to the landscape around us, "and here" she said as she softly reached up resting her hand in the center of her chest. "It’s as if the sunshine, water and soil are just symbols for the thoughts, feelings and actions that, when properly tended to, ensures the same richness of experience in life as a well-tended garden, bringing to our senses the most wonderful sites, tastes and smells! "

She leaned upon her spade and smiled.

After a moments pause, she looked at me directly, eyes filled with a soft twinkle, choosing her final words with care. “For me it is such a blessing to know that one's life can be so whole and complete, no matter your career or passion.  I guess you could say that I am, simply put, a peaceful happy gardener –  both within and without, wherever I go, now in this conversation, while I eat and yes, even when I sleep. It brings me such joy that I cannot help but to wish this blessing for everyone I know.”

~James Gehring


Addressing the Fears currently surrounding the use of Elderberry Products!

By Beth Schreibman Gehring- Chairman of Education Western Reserve Herb Society

A Season of Peace & Joy (32)

Good afternoon everyone! Wherever this finds you , I hope that it finds you well and happy, safely surrounded by your loved ones! 

I've written this article in response to an email that has been making the rounds concerning the possibility of elderberry products exacerbating the dangerous phenomenon that is known as the Cytokine Storm, which we are hearing about constantly right now as we are learning more and more about COVID-19. This email was sent to me last night, but this wasn’t the first I’d heard of the concern about elderberry and cytokine storm. I'm a herbal educator who likes to work with the medical community, even though I’ve always been a proponent of traditional herbalism.

For me, simply getting the facts without demonizing a generally helpful herb just makes sense. What I discovered when doing the research the other day for someone else who brought this concern to me, was that much of this misunderstanding was coming from several articles posted on some of the online mothers groups. There’s even one that uses an article from the Lancet to try to back up the claims. I spent all afternoon combing the Lancet articles and they had been completely taken out of context, simply to prove the point with no mention of elderberry at all. 

What is going on with this new scare is not unlike the anti-vaccine conversation, where many hypotheses have quickly turned into statements of “fact”, blurring the real truths usually found in the center between both sides of any argument. I mean no offense at all to anyone who is anti-vaccine but only pointing out that once that happens, hysteria breaks out quickly in this information age and that is what appears to have happened here. This has many of us who are involved in herbal education really upset right now. It’s happening because people are so scared and I don’t blame them but they need to use the information they find correctly and without making simple assumptions out of fear.  

The email sent last night was sent to me by someone whose pediatrician sent it to her.  I don’t blame the Pediatrician for being upset at all and for asking their patients to discontinue using it. The liabilities  would be huge if anything were to go wrong, even if elderberry had nothing really to do with it. We live in a very litigious society. I have since I received it, seen this posted several different places in unrelated sources which leads me to believe that it's being grabbed and dispersed without any real research. 

That being said, most of the pediatricians, functional and family physicians who work directly with herbs and herbalists believe that elderberry does not contribute to the phenomenon of the cytokine storm. That being said, they/we are also very cautious about suggesting it to anyone who is known to be immune compromised. That is just common sense. We’ve known forever in the herbal community that elderberry can ramp up the immune system and  like I said last night, it should never be suggested to anyone who is known to be immune compromised or anyone for that matter who is using any medicines to help promote an immune response.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or lupus, you really need to discuss using elderberry with your Doctor. For instance, my brother is diabetic and also on anti- rejection drugs. There’s no way he should ever consider taking it. When my father was fighting an antibiotic resistant superbug, we did not use it because his immune system was already too compromised and because he was also fighting a host of autoimmune issues. He was on Proscar for his prostate and Plaquenil for his rheumatoid arthritis and we felt that elderberry could have stimulated his immune system too much.


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 Elderberry should never be used by anyone who is taking Theophylline for asthma or other respiratory conditions because it can reduce the levels of those drugs, causing them to not work as well. If you are taking a diuretic it’s a no go because elderberry is already a diuretic and elderberry also has laxative qualities. Diabetics need to be really careful because elderberry can reduce blood sugar too much and too quickly. It’s contraindicated for anyone on chemotherapy as well. These are very practical things though and this information is easily available from any pharmacist and most good herbalists already know it because we have to be so careful. In my own experience, these contraindications are often not as well known by many Doctors, which is why I always say to become your pharmacists best friend and then share what you've learned with your Doctor!

Personally, elderberry is not part of my immunity arsenal except in cases like this when I am trying to be extra cautious. For times that aren’t as urgent I personally rely on a really healthy diet, lots of sleep, meditation, movement, plenty of water and green tea, bone broth to which I’ve added lots of fresh ginger, garlic and fresh turmeric, zinc  (in low amounts), vitamins C, D and B, refrigerated Probiotics, Prebiotics, astragalus, olive leaf extract and a reishi mushroom mixture.

When a nasty bug is circulating I’ll generally begin to take elderberry right after I’ve had the direct exposure and continue it for about 7 days. If I still get sick what I’ve noticed for myself is that I generally recover faster. I discontinue its use very quickly, generally about three days into my illness and move on to zinc and Umcka, an African Geranium that is thought to help with recovery from colds and flus.  That’s  been the standard way most of us have used elderberry for years, it’s only recently that it’s become used as a daily prophylactic, as it's benefits became more widely known by the general public.  

However, these are different times. I don’t blame anyone for using it that way right now ( I do blame them for hoarding it, that’s just silly!) and for most, it’s generally very safe provided it’s made correctly, even if you take it daily which I do not ever personally recommend. Most commercial preparations are made very well and are generally safe. Several years ago I spent months teaching so many young mothers who were trying to making the syrup themselves. Their kids were taking their syrup and vomiting because they had been using unripe berries and some stems as well as the ripe berries!  Unknown to many, elderberry is totally poisonous if not produced correctly. The plant is full of cyanide so there is a proper way to harvest it and produce it and for the record, most homemade elderberry syrup if produced correctly is as safe as anything you can buy.  

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 I have been waiting for Aviva Romm to weigh in on this before I wrote about this. Aviva is one of the only Doctors (Yale Medical School) that I know of who is also a highly trained herbalist and midwife. I’ve loved and followed her work for years.   She’s always "no nonsense" which is one of the things I love about her.  She has created a COVID-19 site and you can find the link here. I am grateful to be able to share it with you; it is full of valuable information that we all need right now. 

I have sent the link to an article she wrote last night, but I took this piece out of it as it directly relates to her feelings about this.  

“What about Elderberry? There’s an enormous amount of  information and misinformation circulating on the internet about elderberry, COVID-19, and a phenomenon called ‘cytokine storm.’ The bottom line is that most of the evidence for elderberry is for the treatment of flu when taken during the first 72 hours of symptoms, not for the prevention of either colds or flu, though one study showed a reduced duration and severity of colds (upper respiratory infection) in air travelers compared to those who didn’t use it.

Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), or in its extreme, cytokine storm is an immunologic phenomenon that occurs in advanced states of infection, for example, in ARDS, as mentioned above, a potentially severe advanced COVID-19 complication, sepsis, also a possible severe COVID-19 complication, or with certain specific immunologic medications (i.e., monoclonal antibodies). It was considered a major cause of death in the Spanish Flu, SARS, and H1N1 Interleukin-6 is a term often dropped in these conversations because it is an immune mediator that acts as both a pro-inflammatory cytokine but, simultaneously it also acts as an anti-inflammatory. The association with elderberry and cytokine storm is implausible;  elderberry is not able to cause cytokine storm whether used for prevention or infection, or during infection. Were one to be experiencing cytokine storm, one would be far too sick for herbal therapies; this is an ICU/life support level crisis. Bottom line: elderberry is unlikely, based on what we know at this time, particularly relevant for COVID-19 prevention or even treatment of mild-to moderate symptoms and if you’re concerned about cytokine release syndrome or cytokine storm as a result of this herb, don’t use it. “

https://avivaromm.com/covid-19-natural-prevention/

It’s always important to check in with your primary physicians, pediatricians and pharmacists before starting any herbal supplements, especially in a risky time like this. The problems usually come when people don’t. Because herbs are herbs they are assumed to be safer. They are for the most part EXCEPT that people forget that they are medicines... some of the oldest in the world. In this age of modern pharmaceuticals they can be dangerous because of how they can contraindicate with those medicines, something everyone needs to know and check out for themselves. For example, take the benign and delicious cranberry... healing for most, but not if you are taking blood thinners as it can possibly increase the risk of bleeding.
 
I always tell my clients, "You are responsible for your own health. Don't give your power away. In this day and age of Google, ignorance is definitely  a choice. Learn everything you can and ask as many questions as you need!"  
 
 I do love Dr. Aviva Romms site and she’s always really on top of things. If you get a chance, take a look .. I think you’ll like her too and find her to be a wealth of really good and practical information!

I hope this helps! Stay well , safe and if I can be of help in any way please let me know!

Yours in beauty and magic,

Beth

Medical Disclaimer: In accordance with FDA and other government entity rules: the information and products you may learn about in regard to Herbal Wellness as a result of your association with WRHS are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You, and you alone, are legally responsible for any and all decisions you make regarding the health of yourself, your family, children and your friends, clients and even your pets. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have learned as a result of your association with WRHS. Reliance on any information provided by The Western Reserve Herb Society, and members teaching or writing for WRHS or guests speaking at the invitation of WRHS, is used solely at your own risk.


What I am doing for the upcoming COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. February 26, 2020 , By James Robb, M.D., F.C.A.P.

By Beth Schreibman Gehring -Education Chairman Western Reserve Herb Society

 

 

A Season of Peace & Joy (24)

I’m posting this for anyone who  will appreciate this information. Many of you may have already seen it, as it is being posted all over the internet.  It is definitely a departure from our normal herbal articles but it is timely and necessary. I received from my sister Ellen, whose husband Dr. Peter Salk  over his lifetime has been very much involved with vaccine science, pathology and virology at the Salk Institute in San Diego, so I truly trust the source. This was written by a virologist who worked at UCSD in the 70’s doing early work on coronavirus’s.

Please do not substitute any of this advice for a good old fashioned trip to the Doctor if you begin to exhibit any symptoms at all! 

According to his research it is spread by contact, much more than air dispersion. He has lots of suggestions including the use of zinc. Jim and I truly hope that you find it valuable. --------

"As some of you may recall, when I was a professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego, I was one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses (the 1970s). I was the first to demonstrate the number of genes the virus contained. Since then, I have kept up with the coronavirus field and its multiple clinical transfers into the human population (e.g., SARS, MERS), from different animal sources. The current projections for its expansion in the US are only probable, due to continued insufficient worldwide data, but it is most likely to be widespread in the US by mid to late March and April. Here is what I have done and the precautions that I take and will take. These are the same precautions I currently use during our influenza seasons, except for the mask and gloves.

1) NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.

2) Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.

3) Open doors with your closed fist or hip - do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.

4) Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.

5) Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.

6) Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home's entrances. AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can't immediately wash your hands.

7) If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!

What I have stocked in preparation for the pandemic spread to the US:

1) Latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves for use when going shopping, using the gasoline pump, and all other outside activity when you come in contact with contaminated areas. Note: This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average - everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs) The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.

2) Stock up now with disposable surgical masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth 90X/day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you - it is lung-specific. The mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth - it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth.

3) Stock up now with hand sanitizers and latex/nitrile gloves (get the appropriate sizes for your family). The hand sanitizers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective.

4) Stock up now with zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY "cold-like" symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available. I, as many others do, hope that this pandemic will be reasonably contained, BUT I personally do not think it will be. Humans have never seen this (edited: animal)-associated virus before and have no internal defense against it. Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved. BUT, there will be NO drugs or vaccines available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available. I hope these personal thoughts will be helpful during this potentially catastrophic pandemic. You are welcome to share. Good luck to all of us!

James Robb, M.D., F.C.A.P. --------- James Robb, M.D., F.C.A.P., is a consulting pathologist to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research (OBBR), and is also the Leader of the cancer Human Biobank (caHUB) Biospecimens Subgroup, Latin America Cancer Research Network (LACRN) Pathology Committee, and National Community Cancer Centers Biospecimens (NCCCP) Pillar. He also serves on the Board of Governors of the College of American Pathologists (CAP). Dr. Robb's research interests include molecular oncologic and neurotropic virology.