Do you ever have those moments where you look back on your life and realize that you’re somewhere you never thought you would be? Not just physically, but spiritually and intellectually as well.
That’s where I find myself today. I never thought I would be where I currently am–physically, spiritually, and intellectually. None of this is a bad thing, but I have found that people don’t like it when other people have different ideas than they do–especially today. So if you’re the type that gets offended by another person’s beliefs, please stop reading. My intention is not to offend, but I do want to share something that I believe to be very important which has changed my life and the lives of my family members.
This is somewhat of a “coming out” post for me, so here it goes.
I love plants, more specifically, herbs. Not just the culinary ones, but the medicinal ones. I love them so much that I completed a 3-year Masters in Herbology program in 9 months (more on that later). I believe that herbs are not only the “people’s medicine” but God’s medicine as well.
I never thought I would be one of those “weirdos” and yet here I am. But I didn’t forge these beliefs haphazardly. These beliefs were formed after serious study and serious experiences. My hope in sharing these beliefs is to open your eyes to a new way (or old depending on how you look at it) of doing things.
What The Scriptures Say
When my wife and I were drafting our book The Word of Wisdom: Hope, Healing, and the Destroying Angel, we had thoroughly discussed most of the text in the Word of Wisdom, however we felt like something was missing. We felt like we needed to include a discussion on herbs because of the multitude of verses that discuss them in the scriptures as well as in the Word of Wisdom itself.
Doctrine and Covenants
The Word of Wisdom
Doctrine and Covenants 89:10 reads: “And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man.“
God is very specific in this verse. He says that wholesome herbs (meaning the whole thing) are ordained by Him. He did not say partsome, which is what many pharmaceuticals are–they extract the active constituents of plants and concentrate them and combine them with other substances to make them highly potent and often toxic.
God also says that these wholesome herbs should be used for our constitution, meaning: “The state of being; that form of being or peculiar structure and connection of parts which makes or characterizes a system or body.”
They are also to be used for our nature, which means: “The essence, essential qualities or attributes of a thing, which constitute it what it is; as the nature of the soul; the nature of blood; the nature of a fluid…”
When we understand these definitions from the 1828 American Dictionary (the dictionary available when the revelation was given), we can see that the Lord clearly told Joseph Smith that wholesome herbs are to be used as medicine (or food) to regulate the structure of our bodies and all the matter residing in them.
The Law of the Church
I can see how you might be saying, “Well that’s just your interpretation.” Maybe. But the Lord makes this very explicit in another revelation known as the Law of the Church (section 42).
In verse 43, the Lord says: “And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy.”
If someone is sick and does not have the faith to be healed, the Lord’s directive is for the person to be helped with herbs and mild food.
(As an interesting side note: in verse 48, the Lord says, “And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.” In other words, if you have faith in Christ to be healed, and it’s not your time to go, you will be healed.)
Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is very clear about the usage of herbs as well:
And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climateAlma 46:40, emphasis added
From this we learn that God not only prepared plants to help with sickness, but that he prepared them to remove the very causes of diseases! That is incredible to think about when we consider the implications, specifically for our own lives and our own health problems.
The Bible has a multitude of references that mention herbs and their uses.
Isaiah 38:21 says: “For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover.”
Ezekiel 47:12 says: “And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.“
Throughout all history, God’s medicine has been herbs. He created those plants, so He knows best how to use them. Is God a changing God? I don’t believe so. I believe He wants us to use His creations to heal our bodies, but He’s not going to force us. If we want to choose a different path, that’s our prerogative. We cannot, however, choose the consequences.
Learning from Experience
So as I read these scriptures and included them in my book, it was all still conceptual. I believed it, but mostly because I didn’t have any reason not to believe it.
And then a table fell on my right big toe and shattered it while we were in the middle of writing our book. We didn’t have health insurance at the time, but it was the big toe was in big trouble and likely “needed” surgery. This was my crossroads. I intellectually knew what God had said with herbs, but I didn’t know if it was possible with a broken bone. My wife believed, but I didn’t really believe. So we contacted a friend and called over to the School of Natural Healing started by Dr. John Christopher, the father of modern herbal medicine, to figure out what to do.
To make a long story short, once we figured out what to do, my toe healed up rather quickly and the pain went away. The majority of the healing came because of an herb known as comfrey. Comfrey has been used by thousands of years to heal bones and even set them. However, many years ago, the FDA extracted some compounds in comfrey known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can damage the liver. They observed this liver damage in rats after they injected it subcutaneously. The FDA felt that comfrey was not safe for internal use by humans, specifically because they young plant contains high amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, so they banned it. Of course, this is not the only reason, but one of the main ones. What the FDA won’t tell you is that while comfrey does contain liver damaging alkaloids, comfrey also contains hepatoprotective (liver protecting) compounds in much higher quantities. These compounds include caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, glucuronic acid, lasiocarpine, and rosmarinic acid. It’s almost as if there was a reason that God said to use the wholesome herb, not a partsome herb.
So I used a lot of comfrey. Internally and externally. And in a few weeks time, my toe healed up nicely. I was made a believer…kind of. Perhaps God felt that I needed a little more convincing.
A Scary Disease
Just as we were putting the finishing touches on our Word of Wisdom book and were about to release it, I contracted meningitis, even though I had been previously vaccinated against the disease. And let me tell you, it was frightening.
We first thought I just had a sore neck from sleeping wrong, but then the pain progressed and started to engulf my entire front side of my neck rather than just the back. I started to have a hard time eating or drinking, and then I wasn’t able to swallow my own saliva. At this point we started to believe it wasn’t just a sore neck, but perhaps meningitis. Of course, I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I started taking lots of garlic and a tea of lobelia. But eventually, I broke down because I was scared ,and it just kept getting worse.
One of the reasons meningitis can have a high fatality rate is because it affects the brain, where the person believes that he or she is going to die. I didn’t quite get to that point, but I knew that we needed some kind of strong intervention. I just wasn’t willing to go to the hospital to have my spine tapped.
And then I remembered that in D&C 42:43-44 and James 5:14-15, the Lord tells us that our first line of defense should be faith–faith that the Lord can heal. By this point, it was agonizing just to swallow, and I didn’t know if I would have the faith necessary to be healed. I called for my father to come and give me a blessing, and while he was on his way over, I read every single scripture I could find of Jesus healing the sick to try to help myself obtain enough faith to be healed.
When my father arrived, he gave me a blessing, but I could tell that he was worried about my condition and was not asserting his faith. When he finished, I pulled him in from where I was lying, looked him in the eye, and asked if he had enough faith to heal me.
He said no.
I told him that I needed him to heal me right then–there wasn’t an option. I told him that I needed him to go into the other room and pray until he had enough faith.
When he returned, he put his hands upon me once again and commanded me to be healed. The instant he uttered those words, I felt a release in my throat and was able to swallow without any pain. I had a greater range of motion in my neck and was able to get up and move around.
Although I was not immediately healed completely, I used many herbs the remainder of the day (the ones that I knew) to help my lingering symptoms. Within 24 hours, I was back to normal.
Faith, Herbs, and Mild Food
When we reach a health crisis, we often turn to the medical profession to get us out. And for some people, that works just great. I take no issue with people who want to go that route. However, I believe that the Creator knows the cause of every disease and malady we could ever experience. He also knows the solution to every sickness or health problem and has even provided a way from the very beginning to remove the cause. As we read in the Book of Mormon, God provided plants and roots (herbs) to remove the very cause of disease.
I truly believe that the road to health (without side effects or after effects) is simple: faith, herbs, and mild food. Our loving God did not leave Adam nor his posterity without hope for their health. Instead, He foresaw all things that would come upon the children of Adam and Eve and prepared a way to keep their bodies clean and make them whole, else, He would not be an omniscient God.
After these experiences, I knew that I had to learn as much as I could about the “excellent qualities of the plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases.” God had already told my wife that I should go back to school to become a Master Herbalist, but I wasn’t quite convinced. My wife had already learned all about healing through mild food in her schooling, but I needed some experiences to humble me enough to rely and the Lord and look for answers in the herbs.
After my healing from meningitis, I immediately enrolled in the School of Natural Healing’s Master Herbalist program which normally takes about three years to complete. I completed it in about 9 months. It certainly wasn’t easy, and the finals were brutal. But it was absolutely worth it.
With this knowledge, I have been able to help my wife and kids overcome both inherited (genetic) weaknesses and the common sicknesses we all face. For me and my family, applying the principles God has laid out throughout scripture has been empowering. I could list so many experiences of healing that have occurred in our home through the use of faith, herbs, and mild food.
If you do not believe in this manner of healing, I’m not attacking you in your beliefs, so don’t attack me in mine. Rather, I would invite you to consider these things, wherever you are in your beliefs involving health and healing. Jesus once said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” In other words, test it out and see for yourself. I know from personal experience (and the vast number of experiences of others) that when applied knowledgeably and prudently, faith, herbs, and mild food will do you know harm and will only bring health and healing.