‘Be Your Own “Doctor”‘ review

Marcia Krahn  ·  Jul 01, 2013

Your 3-year-old son has a cold that suddenly turns worse. When you take his temperature, the thermometer reads 103 degrees. His breathing becomes labored, and you notice a bluish tint beginning around his mouth and fingernails. It’s after doctor office hours. What do you do? According to Rachel Weaver, master herbalist, take him immediately to the emergency room.

So why the title Be Your Own “Doctor”? Rachel says that her goal is not to keep you from the doctor, but to help you know when you should consult one. She sums up her philosophy with the words “Take responsibility for your health.” Taking responsibility means doing what you can at home and leaving what you can’t for the doctor.

Rachel has helped many families take responsibility for their health by “using natural remedies in place of doctor visits.” Be Your Own “Doctor” is her 336-page handbook of “common sense living” based on more than 30 years’ experience as a master herbalist. Written to preserve this information for her children, grandchildren, and those who consult her, Rachel interlaces stories with her recommendations for natural remedies and her “take responsibility” outlook toward conventional medical practices.

For instance, if you schedule a doctor visit for a specific problem, Rachel advises researching your problem ahead of time, so that you are informed and prepared. She also suggests taking someone with you who can verify what the doctor said. Weaver believes that “concerned physicians look for ways to help their patients,” and admonishes that if your doctor makes a mistake in judgment, it may be your own fault. Your responsibility is to provide the doctor with the information needed to rightly assess your condition, because the doctor may not have enough time with you to discover the whole of the problem.

But Rachel is also extremely concerned that American doctors are taught to primarily treat with manufactured drugs that sometimes treat symptoms rather than root causes and can produce damaging side effects. She points out that doctors in several countries, including Germany and France, still prescribe herbs. To Rachel, a simpler, less expensive, less potentially harmful, and equally effective way exists to treat many family health issues.

Rachel believes this way is through the generous and thoughtful endowment our Creator, Who placed everything we need for life here on earth and provided herbs as part of His “healing of mankind.” However, she warns that even with herbs, not everything touted as an herbal remedy is a true remedy. Throughout the centuries, herbal remedies have been wrongly woven with superstition and witchcraft. Even today, despite the accurate research available, some are still “rooted in false philosophy” and make “preposterous promises, preying on people who want quick cures.”

Rachel recommends continual study, equating the use of herbal remedies to a journey on which you should “be temperate, thoughtful, and consistent.” She offers her book as one resource on the road of taking responsibility for your health. To aid your study, Rachel organized her herbal knowledge into three major sections of readily accessible information.

Part I, “Essential Household Remedies,” features 19 common household products. Apple cider vinegar, cayenne, cloves, garlic, honey, onions, peppermint, and parsley are among those listed for their healing properties. For easy reference, a sidebar lists basic uses for each household product. After a brief overview, Rachel uses headings to indicate which use is being addressed and then explains the form and amount that applies for each remedy. Her stories, usually taken from her years of consultations throughout the U.S. and Canada, illustrate the effectiveness of these household remedies.

One example is comfrey, Rachel’s favorite herb. Comfrey contains allantoin, a natural chemical compound frequently used in cosmetics and hygiene products, which accelerates cell growth. Traditionally nicknamed “knitbone,” comfrey has a reputation for promoting healing of broken bones. Rachel recommends comfrey for minor cuts and burns, chapped lips, cold sores, and diaper rash. She has seen comfrey relieve psoriasis and varicose veins, as well as reduce scarring. Directions for making a comfrey poultice, comfrey salve, and comfrey burn paste are some of the remedies included and explained.

In Part II, “Working with your Family’s Health,” Rachel emphasizes the importance of living preventively. She addresses common concerns with pregnancy, babies, growing children, and aging parents, as well as dealing with problems such as poison ivy, flu, headaches, hives, cuts, and burns. After noting that most people find it easier to “pop a pill than to make a lifestyle change,” Rachel compares the crucial importance of first responding with a lifestyle change instead of medication to “a fence at the edge of a cliff to prevent someone from falling over it, rather than putting an ambulance at the bottom to pick up the folks who fall over the edge.”

Continuing her case, Rachel cites an article by Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in the Journal of the American Medical Association stating that “250,000 deaths per year are caused by medical errors, making this the third-largest cause of death in the United States, following heart disease and cancer.” She encourages families to “learn how to work with your body” so that you are ready and better able to handle the health and safety issues that will come and not to depend on “a pill for every ill.”

“Planning Ahead” is stressed in Part III, addressing the importance of being prepared and well-stocked with supplies for first aid and illnesses that can be treated at home. After providing information on how to prepare herbs, she gives recipes for teas, tinctures, tonics, and salves. Rachel includes three lists of recommended resources, one of helpful books, one of supplies to keep on hand, and one of supply companies. She ends with a Quick Reference Emergency Chart to copy and post in a readily available place in your home.

Rachel Weaver shares her knowledge and experience, but she says “the challenge is yours.” As a master herbalist, she urges families to “take responsibility for your health” and to “discover herbs, the plants God gave us for food, medicine, and enjoyment.”