Written by Meghan Rhodes MCPP MAPA
When W and I first spoke, he had two primary concerns. Anxiety was keeping him from getting restful sleep and he was in pain. W could have just had some sleeping medication or popped a painkiller, but not only did he want to go the natural route, he also wanted someone to listen and help him get to the root of what was bothering him so things would be properly resolved.
W knew what was causing his anxiety and poor sleep and he knew the course those events had to run, so my focus in supporting him with herbs was to nourish and soothe his exhausted nervous system alongside gentle, yet effective sedatives. In this way, although the herbs couldn't change what he was going through, they could give his body access to rest and help him get out of fight or flight mode when he didn't need to be. Quality sleep is such an important medicine we all need daily, so getting into that rhythm was essential.
As for the pain, W's discomfort was a perfect example of why listening and getting to the root cause are such effective methods of support. W loves playing football with his local club. It's how he likes to keep active, as well as an important part of his weekly social diary. But although he was fine to play, his feet would have an awful ache afterwards through the rest of the evening. It was really uncomfortable and taking some of the joy out of the game, and ibuprofen wasn't cutting it.
This wasn't because W was running himself ragged at practice, though. A few years prior, W had had pelvic surgery to remove a malignant growth. Fortunately, the procedure was successful. But afterwards, W felt the blood never really got all the way to his feet as efficiently as it had in the past; hence, the pain.
As a practitioner, I always love when a client has an intuitive sense about what's gone out of balance. It means they're in touch with their bodies and they're listening and paying attention - they just need help with how to support their bodies to get back into balance.
What W needed support with was improving pelvic circulation and peripheral circulation so blood flow would stop stagnating in his pelvis, resulting in throbbing feet after exercise.
So I formulated a blend of herbs specific for pelvic circulation, which are also nourishing and restorative for men's health - ginkgo, Chinese angelica and gokshura - and paired them with bilberry to encourage blood flow all the way to the tips of the toes. I also included a few herbs to soothe and nourish the nervous system and hold the heart through the stressful events, so W would be supported both day and night. Finally, I created a bespoke 'spicy foot balm', as we named it, with cayenne and ginger infused oils and rosemary essential oil for W to use after football to really encourage blood flow to the feet and alleviate the pain in the short term whilst we improved his pelvic and peripheral circulation.
A month after W had been on his herbal remedies, we caught up.
'What have you done to me? It's like magic!'
The pain, W said, was gone. Just a bit of normal soreness after running about for a session of football, but no more throbbing and no more pain on waking. Sleep, he said, had also improved greatly. Despite the ongoing life stress, W was feeling better in himself, better in general and he was waking in the morning ready to hit the day.
'My hero,' he said.
Of course, that genuinely made my day.
W responded so well and so quickly to his remedies, I was able to adjust his blend after just one month to further focus on his pelvic circulation support. After another month, we were on to supporting one of W's long-term health goals.
At first glance, the herbal remedies I created for W improved his sleep and took away his pain. But what they really did was a lot more than that. His remedies supported his nervous system through a challenging time and improved his pelvic and peripheral circulation, meaning his body was brought back into balance. His body's messages weren't silenced - they were listened to and acted upon - so that pain and discomfort doesn't need to come back.
But most of all, they brought W's joie de vivre back. They brought the enjoyment back to sport, the rest to sleep, and a rejuvenation of confidence after surgery and struggle. And they opened up the possibility of more - of even deeper work that could unlock another level of joy in W's life.
And so W asks for a top up of his mix when he wants one, but other than that, he doesn't really need me anymore. And that's when, as a herbalist, I know I've done my job well.