Alternatives, Global Province Letter, 9 July 2014

Red-tailed Hawk.  We were on our way to nowhere (that is the luxury given us on Sundays) --- caught up in that delicious estate where you amble on foot along a path you have never taken or let your car lead the way down a narrow-lane blue highway on a motoring adventure that might happen on a fruit stand or a creek with mossy rocks.  We were on our way. But suddenly we were caught up short in a crisis of nobody’s making.  On our brick sidewalk, sprouts of crass poking up here and there, lay a limp bird which might have been an owl, or so we thought, but turned out to be a red-shouldered hawk.

At first he was so still we were sure he had already gone to bird heaven.  Then he hopped six inches and we were certain he had broken a wing. Then at last, many minutes later, he made it up the walk and into a stand of Japanese maples. It took us 45 minutes to find a savior. We located a volunteer rescue family who takes on wounded wildlife. They are just a couple of miles away. That was not easy. The state has closed down the only sanctuary in this area devoted to bird rescues. And local officials had no idea what to do. But finally we laid our hands on a kindly couple who do rescues for free, quite a contrast to the $5 million installation that sort of did the job before state and local budgets were slashed to nothing. 

As it turned out the hawk did not need a veterinarian or expensive treatments.  Some young birds push out of the nest too early, well before they learn to hunt. Usually they starve. The bird on our walk was quite thin. Our volunteer caretaker said a couple of delicious mice and copious love would do the trick. The hawk would not be snatched from this world before his time.

Simple and Free. When we are at wit’s end, with a problem that seems unsolvable and for which the big institutions can offer nothing, it is probably time to look into the home remedy offered up by a grizzled neighbor next door. Look for an unassuming low-key chap who happens to have dealt with your kind of imbroglio before. He will come up with something.  Often enough it is harmless: sometimes it does some good. 

Medicine offers up countless examples of little cures that the FDA has not blessed and many doctors scorn.  And yet they seem to have worked for legions of people tired of expensive nostrums that have either done little for sufferers or, worse yet, have caused them harm. Arnica montana is renowned for reducing swelling and abolishing bruises faster and more effectively than steroids, vitamin k and the like. Gold and other ‘noble’ metals have been shown to disable aspects of the auto-immune systems and to provide relief for arthritis, lupus, and several other intractable conditions. Simple honey has been used in anti-bacterial washes and has been an effective aid for children suffering from uncontrollable coughing. Countless people suffering from lifelong allergies avow that they have banished their complaints by consuming daily some local honey (zip code honey) from the specific locale where they live. There is now thought that a common fungus containing aspergillomarasmine A or AMA may overcome antibiotic resistance in a whole range of superbugs or multidrug resistant bacteria---bacteria that bedevil hospital administrators across America and kill patients blithely.  

Winning the War Instead of a Battle. Writ large, we are discovering that cures devised in a lab or in other complicated research facilities are expensive to fabricate, are sometimes downright harmful, and are often rather ineffective. Particularly with more chronic type conditions, we are finding that a drug devised today to ameliorate a disease condition is fine for the moment but often loses efficacy over the long term. Some would prefer to look outdoors in nature’s laboratory to see if there are simple but hardy substances already occurring in nature that may deal with life’s ills.

James Duke. James Duke’s long career in and out of government has been dedicated to the study of the medicinal uses of plants.  He finds that there is much out there in the wilds (he has made countless trips to the Amazon) that merits serious investigation by healthcare professionals to see if Mother Nature does not already have in her storehouse formulations that are better and safer for a host of serious ailments. Knowing that drugs devised in the lab usually have grim side effects, even when they are curative, he suggests that government approved trials should always include one possible natural palliative for a disease condition in addition to the drug company compound under consideration.  You can lean about his thinking in “A Third Arm for the First World?”  So far government has not taken him up on his notion that it is worth seeing whether nature can give us medicinals that are far safer and far cheaper than what the major pharmaceutical houses offer us. 

Never Give Up.  Officialdom and Monday Morning Quarterbacks are always telling us that there is nothing to be done. Experts shrug and throw up their hands. Doctors, and lawyers, and engineers, and governors, and college presidents, and scientists, and just about everybody, tell us balefully that there is nothing to be done about this or that. But there is always something.  So we must look around and go beyond the easy ‘no’ answer.  Maybe Ruth Gordon said it best:  “Never give up.  And never, under any circumstances, face the facts.”






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