An integrative approach to healing ourselves and our world: honoring people, plants, planet

An elderly woman who came to me for a health condition could serve as a lesson for many of us who care for an aged or infirm family member. The 91 year-old woman lives in a nursing home. The care she receives is primarily from Certified Nursing Aides who do their job according to conventional guidelines and standard procedures. Making any changes to their set routine can be challenging.

When she was 89, she told me about her recurring urinary tract infection, and how the rounds of antibiotics did nothing to stop it. The doctor would no longer prescribe antibiotics to her because of the chance of developing resistant bacteria strains. I had to think of a gentle herb that would be easy to administer within the aides’ system of caring, and was easy to find in a grocery store. Ginger tea.

The existing everyday routine for my client was to drink black Lipton’s tea. The nurses would bring her a cup of hot water, and a tea bag. The solution would be easy; substitute the black tea for ginger tea. Lipton’s makes a ginger tea that is just dried ginger in a tea bag. So, a family member buys a box of Lipton’s Ginger Tea for my client to keep in her room. My client told me the taste was a bit different, and took some time to grow on her, but she drank it. She hasn’t had a urinary tract infection for three years now.

The learning here is that it is possible to use gentle herbal and nutritional remedies at a nursing home. Always communicate with the person’s doctor or health practitioner before adding an herb or nutrient. Also, within a population that is way over-medicated, it surprises me that United States doctors will prescribe a strong medication with harmful side effects when a gentle, and cheap, herbal remedy would do the job better.

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