My education and career has provided opportunities to spend nine years living and working in developing countries, mainly in Africa and Asia.
In Africa, I worked as a consultant for the United Nations UNHCR (United Nations High Commission Refugee Agency) in Luanda, Angola, liaising with the World Health Organisation, World Food Program, MSF, Red Cross, in roles in health prevention, health education, public health, sports development, negotiations, conflict resolution, amongst other duties.
In the African refugee camps of Luanda, I was granted an opportunity to learn about African traditional herbal medicine. In Asia, in a refugee camp of the Burmese Karen hill tribe, I was exposed to entirely different local native species of medical herbs and varying principles of eastern traditional medical knowledge. I spent five years in China, where I met numerous Chinese ethnic minority tribal groups who had local knowledge of even more varieties of species of wild medical plants, that they used in the treatments of ailments specific to their isolated regions of China.
After returning to Australia, I re studied in the field of Naturopathy (Western Herbal Medicine and Nutrition) and enrolled in a Masters of Tropical Medicine and Public Health.
Over in the poorer nations there is no debate to the success of herbal medicine.
Medical herbs is often the only form of ANY medicine available. It is just called “medicine”.
The United Nations World Health Organisation has an entire database on traditional medical plants and their uses.
For thousands of years, worldwide, herbal medicine has been traditionally utilised successfully in the management of numerous diseases. It still is today.
The debate of which is better a modern drug or a traditional medical herb is non existent, in a non capitalist society. In developing nations they will implement both. The choice of “medicine” in developing nations is logistics, whatever works, whatever is cheapest and whatever is available are the deciding factors. Ironically, the same pharmaceutical companies despised in the west for greed will donate many drugs for free for the treatment of numerous diseases.
I come from a strong scientific background. In high school, I placed 10th in the whole state of NSW for the health science subject in the HSC. I have numerous pieces of paper and university degrees but my work experience in Africa and Asia taught me an invaluable lesson about my own education. I learnt that my education is western-based on “textbook perfect world scenarios”, however life, death, health, and disease are not as simple as a multiple-choice test with one correct answer.
There is no Australian naturopathic university, Australian medical university, naturopathic textbook, medical textbook, or any results from a clinical trial, that can compare to my learnings when I set foot in an African refugee camp and was exposed to the high level of disease, malnutrition, poverty, war trauma, sanitation issues, and an absolute lack of modern technology and medical resources.
Traditional herbal medicine does have some of the answers.
Not all of them, but it does provide some answers and solutions.
There are other options available than only the western mainstream modern medical and pharmaceutical industry.
Medical systems and societies do not need to be indoctrinated.
They do not need to operate in isolation.
It is not about one system being right and the other being wrong.
Both modern and traditional systems have their own strengths and their own weaknesses.
Medical education, knowledge, wisdom and treatments can be combined.
Not many practitioners have learnt to question the limitations of their own education system, and to troubleshoot “what are some other options?” and “what can we do?” when the western education textbook treatment of a textbook diagnosis at a textbook dose didn’t work*.
This building was acting as the medical clinic for the refugee camp.
When this is the reality, you have no choice but to question, and then learn.
*Disclaimer: to the AMA Australian Medical Association and the TGA Therapeutic Goods Association, I openly invite you to have full access (with patient confidentially protection) to my filing cabinet of documented case study after case study. Naturopathy will often fall short in clinical trials as the basis of naturopathy is every patient needed a different treatment so we cannot design a successful clinical trial based on one herb one disease to yield a P statistic value in sciences own methodology protocols. What I do have is hundreds of individual case studies of positive results, using only a traditional liquid herb dispensary, diet and lifestyle changes, and vitamin/mineral supplementation, after numerous hours of research per patient including drug and nutrient interaction checks before the prescription of any herb or vitamin.
Bachelor Applied Science (University Canberra)
Advanced Diploma Naturopathy (Australian College Natural Therapies Brisbane)
Masters Development security withdraw (University Cape Town South Africa)
Masters Tropical Medicine and Public Health enrolled (James Cook University Cairns)
Professional Member ANTA: Australian Natural Therapies Association AN09335N
HICAPS: Medibank Private: 1384955F