Category Archives: Philosophy of Health

Why did I choose Manual Osteopathy as an adjunct profession?

Written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG) ~ Medical Herbalist

Classical Osteopathy, or Manual Osteopathy is a very gentle non invasive, hands-on form of manual therapy that focuses on supporting the bodies self healing mechanisms to restore optimal health – seeking to address physical structure and resolve underlying tissue imbalances, not only treat symptoms of dis-ease. Manual Osteopathy does not involve pharmaceutical medications or surgery but instead focuses on removing restrictions to physical structure to assist the bodies self regulation abilities within set homeostatic principles.

“To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease.” – Andrew Taylor Still MD, DO. Osteopathy Research and Practice

Reviewing the philosophy of Osteopathy, Dr Still, the founder of Osteopathy affirmed several osteopathic principles of which manual osteopathy therapy is based on:

Founder of Osteopathy, Dr Still
  1. The body is considered one whole functioning unit- it is impossible to have injury or restrictions in function of one area without involving and affecting other areas.
  2. Body structure influences the body’s functions – both are interrelated. If any structure is out of place, injured or otherwise not working properly, the body will not function at its best.
  3. The body has self regulating mechanisms which ensure it functions within set homeostatic range.
  4. The body contains self defence mechanisms and the capacity for self healing; when restrictions to function are alleviated, the body can proceed with maintaining the highest state of optimal health possible at any given time.

Dr Still recognised the essential importance of the circulation of fluids to keep tissues healthy, reinforcing the doctrine that the body’s fluids must be allowed to flow without restriction. Thus blood flow and its circulation from head to toe, lymphatic movement and neurological motor and sensory impulses must be without restrictions. The vascular system is involved in sending nutrients and needed oxygen to local cells and tissues as well as removing waste material from a cell for its elimination from the body. The nerves are involved in cell to cell and whole body communication through rapid electrical message relay.

  • Dr Still held the work of the nervous system in high esteem, viewing it as the messaging system or essentially the ‘internet highway’ of the body and spoke of the importance of safeguarding this communication pathway from inhibition.
  • Ligaments hold bones in position- regardless of whether the bones are set in perfect position for unhindered movement of fluids beneath.
  • One cannot work on the soma – the body- without facilitating a degree of change to tissues from head to toe; similarly, dis-ease also manifests as influencing the physical body and its function in some degree or another.

In my personal 20 year quest to comprehend practices (both ancient and modern) that enhance the highest possible expression of health and wellness; the discovery of the philosophy of Osteopathy and how its classical manual techniques can enhance wellbeing – is in alignment with my pursuit.

One of the ways Manual osteopathy can assist with homeostasis is to address the body’s structure, gently impacting the function of any underlying anatomical routes responsible for transporting nourishment to the body’s cells. Here is a possible analogy for better understanding of the Osteopathic process:

  • Full flow of circulation is essential as the flow of blood sends required oxygen full blood, nutrients, immune cells and other vital support to all tissues and cells throughout the body. 
  • The pumping action of the heart along with its electrical system plus the inspire/ exhalation of  lung tissue ensures that oxygenated blood is pumped unimpeded to all cells via the arteries and deoxygenated blood along with waste material is removed from the cells in veins.
  • The lymphatic system is responsible for removing waste from a localised area.
  • The nervous systems role is to activate electrical signalling pathways which modulate cardiovascular and pulmonary function, as well as relay motor and sensory information from the peripheries.
  • If any one of these pathways is not functioning as it should, or is impeded or blocked then overall performance would be less than optimal -possibly leading to a domino effect of long term health insufficiencies.  
  • So in the examples of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome or Brachial Plexus injury, perhaps there was an initial injury with a bone out of alignment and development of scar tissue; this could potentially lead to a narrowing in the brachial plexus area or shoulder girdle with pressure and impingement on underlying nerves and decreased blood flow. How dis-ease unfolds will be unique to each individual, however some examples of a possible progression: over time there could be possible muscle atrophy in a limb, loss of function and pinched nerves could lead to chronic pain radiating down the arm; numbness and tingling. There may be decreased sensation in the arm, or possibly development of raynauds syndrome with subsequent cold hands and fingers, perhaps even the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.  So the initial injury and changes in structure of the scapula could impact the function of the arm and even lead to symptoms in the fingers.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • A manual osteopathic practitioner would follow the path of the lesion, assessing the proper alignment of fascia, bones and connective tissue above the arteries and nerves, alleviating any restrictions and treat the area of the shoulder girdle and neck, decompressing nerve fibres, reducing pain and trigger points while maintaining range of motion to the shoulder and neck.

In my 20 years of studying health and wellness through my lengthy training as a Medical Herbalist, it is apparent that some causes of dis-ease can be due to restrictions or changes to physical structures.  Certain health states can be benefitted by Osteopathic Manual therapy including structure versus function examples- such as:

  • A client suffering from a concussion who has developed disabling migraines.
  • Lack of movement and immobility in seniors can lower flexibility, decrease range of movement and increase the risk of slip and falls.
  • Adhesions after surgery may affect underlying tissue health and function.
  • Poor posture can influence breathing capacity, enhanced vitality and overall wellbeing.
  • Addressing chronic inflammations and injury related to occupational hazards or repetitive movements in ones occupation (painters elbow, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome).
  • Sports injuries (golfers elbow, swimmers knee) or contact sports injuries.
  • Tissue lymphodema (tissue swelling) related to surgery can be minimised through manual therapy and lymphatic drainage techniques.
  • Individuals with type 2 diabetes, for example, are at higher risk of peripheral neuropathy, have slower wound healing time and experience reduced circulation of oxygenated blood to the peripheries, and are in a higher risk category for development of opportunistic foot ulcers, neuropathies, poor healing sores, trauma and possibly more serious complications. Foot care along with osteopathic manual techniques can play a role in slowing dis-ease progression, improving quality of life and decreasing mortality.
  • A simply fall can change the structural alignment of the body, resulting in bone compression, jarring vertebrae or jamming ribs  –consequently pressing heavily on and possibly restricting blood flow; hindering the movement of clean pure blood in and out of a local region and diminishing motor or sensory nerve supply to areas of specific nerve innervations.
  • Even a simple strain or sprain may impede function of local related structures,
  • This is where the role of the osteopath comes in, a manual osteopathy can locate areas of restriction, treating those areas to free up tissues and underlying structures, enhancing the bodies self healing mechanisms and facilitate greater range of motion and assist in addressing underlying and alleviating possible long term compensations.

In my own journey in this hands-on paradigm, I have experienced alleviation of sinus congestion through the gentle treatment of cranial bones, an increased sense of wellbeing and deep relaxation. I have observed improvement in digestive health through visceral tissue work, as well as observed clients attaining greater range of motion, lessened pain sensations and greater mobility when dealing with chronic health issues.

Gentle repetitive movements are used to stimulate all tissue in a localised area including the fascia, ligaments, joints, tendons, bones as well as stimulate underlying tissues to remove congestion, stagnation, improve blood flow and ensure unimpeded flow of fluids and nerve impulses. While an Osteopathic wellness program is never a one program fits all scenario; manual osteopathic therapy seeks to treat the individual, thus treatment is also tailored to the individual.

Manual osteopathic therapy is the perfect adjunct to the internal use of Phytotherapy (aka herbal medicine) and vice versa, allowing options for client centered health care which offers support both internally and somatically (via gentle hands on treatment). I look forward to offering manual osteopathic care to my clients in the near future.

To find out is Osteopathic manual therapies are right for you, email our office at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group.

Read our previous blog postings on “What is Osteopathy” and “Manual Osteopathic Techniques”.

What is A Manual Osteopath?

About Manual Osteopathic Techniques – written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG)

Manual osteopathy is a gentle, safe and effective hands-on technique used to enhance the vitality and health for people of all ages while addressing physical issues related to structure and function as well as enhance mechanical performance.

A manual osteopath uses precise palpation skills to assess and treat tissue restrictions to assist in restoring proper balance of structures and remove tension through non evasive techniques.

Utilizing the patient’s case history, physical assessment, orthopedic tests and along with the use of palpation skills for detecting areas of diminished mobility and osteopathic lesions, classical osteopathy techniques focuses on finding the underlying cause of the symptoms, whether near to or distant from the person’s area of complaint. The treatment focuses on assisting the body to normalize any areas of dysfunction.

An individualised treatment plan is created, based on the individual’s unique health history. While it is the clients body which heals itself; the practitioner’s role is to facilitate the initiation and guidance of the process while utilizing vast knowledge of the connections of bones, joints and underlying tissues and their interrelationship to the underling nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic system, encouraging self regulating forces at work to restore homeostasis.

A manual osteopath is trained in numerous techniques including: joint mobilization, muscle energy techniques, soft tissue techniques, myofascial release, still technique, balanced ligamentous articulation, posture assessment, cranial osteopathy or osteopathy in the cranial field and visceral manipulation. A treatment session may include specific exercises and stretching techniques, foam rolling and lifestyle recommendations for greater sustained health.

“The fascia gives one of; if not the greatest problems to solve as to the part it takes in life and death. It belts each muscle, vein, nerve and all organs of the body. It is almost a network of nerves, cells and tubes, running to and from it; it is crossed and filled with, no doubt, millions of nerve centers and fibres to carry on the work of secreting and excreting fluid vital and destructive. By its action we live, and by its failure we shrink, swell and die.” Dr Andrew T Still – Philosophy of Osteopathy

Manual osteopathy can address issues related to:

  • Realignment of the physical body structure to support optimal function
  • Enhancing mobility of joints, tendons and ligaments
  • Strengthening the structure of your body
  • Spinal alignment issues, including those due to poor posture
  • Reducing scar tissue or adhesions from accidents, injury or trauma
  • Restoring range of motion in the joints, aids in releasing muscle tension and spasms
  • Provides gentle corrections to bones, ligaments, tendons, influencing subtle internal structures- promoting proper alignment and full mobility of tissues and flow of fluids beneath.
  • Sports related injury
  • Prevention of injuries or re injury
  • Techniques directed to reinforcing and maintaining of vitality and quality of life

Manual osteopathic therapy may concentrate on the following:

  • Addressing acute and chronic pain.
  • Goal oriented stretching and exercise that engages clients in their own healing journey
  • Stimulation of underlying fluid movement and circulation via manual techniques
  • Stress management, raising endurance and a sense of wellbeing, improving energy and peace of mind.
  • Senior wellness, maintaining quality of life; focusing on injury prevention
  • Fascia work and soft tissue release, facilitates removal of restrictions to internal organs via visceral manipulation
  • Concussion issues, alleviating possible complications and soft tissue injury caused from trauma or accidents
  • In addition to treating dis-ease, manual osteopathy can be used for health promotion and maintenance. Used both for prevention of dis-ease and as part of a wellness enhancement program.

Osteopathy is used to address a variety of health issues, injuries can can also be used as part of a wellness enhancement program. If you want to know if Osteopathy is the right treatment for you, email us today. Vancouver Manual Osteopathy Therapy at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group.

Read our previous blog postings on “What is Osteopathy” and “Manual Osteopathic Techniques”.

Herbs for Digestion

This informative talk will cover how certain herbal medicines can assist digestive health through various actions. Explore the benefits of some common spices and carminative rich herbs, and understand the effects of bitter and demulcent herbs. Participants will sample a digestive tea and demulcent mixture and will take home a small bag of a carminative digestive spice blend. Instructor: Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG)

Copies of The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies available for $25.

For more information about Katolen visit: www.katolenyardley.com

To stay informed of upcoming classes join our Facebook page: Katolen Yardley, Medical Herbalist

Date: Tuesday | June 4, 2019 | 7 pm – 9 pm

Cost: Van Dusen Members: $31.50 | General Public: $35

Resource person: Adult Education Coordinator, 604-718-5898

Location: VanDusen Guides Classroom | 5151 Oak St, Vancouver, BC, V6M 4H1

To Register:

Van Dusen Gardens: Herbal Medicine 102: Energetics of Herbal Medicines

In this interactive talk, Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG) – Medical Herbalist will teach you about the energetics of plant medicine, and give you tools to incorporate herbal medicine into your life. This class can be taken as a continuation from Herbal Medicine 101 at a discount, or may be taken on its own. Enjoy sampling the flavours of gentle herbs, and explore the effects of herbal remedies based on taste, touch, and sight in the garden. Dress for the weather and a 20 minute garden walk during class. Copies of The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies available for $25.

For more information about Katolen visit: www.katolenyardley.com

To stay informed of upcoming classes join our Facebook page: Katolen Yardley, Medical Herbalist

Date: Wednesday | April 24, 2019 | 7 pm – 9 pm

Cost: Van Dusen Members: $31.50 | General Public: $35

Location: VanDusen Guides Classroom | 5151 Oak St, Vancouver, BC, V6M 4H1

Click here to register!

THE ART OF HERBAL MEDICINE MAKING

About this Workshop

Dive into the art of herbal medicine making and learn how to prepare herbal teas, herbal vinegars, a medicinal salve and infused oil. An instruction booklet will be provided. Learn of the action and medicinal application of herbs used in class for first aid. In this class participants will:

  • learn how to prepare and sample an herbal tea infusion and understand the difference between an infusion and decoction
  • lean how to prepare an infused oil and the various applications for an oil
  • observe the preparation of a herbal salve and take home a small container of medicinal salve
  • prepare and take home a 250ml of medicinal and culinary herbal vinegar

Participants should bring one clean wide mouthed class container (approx 250 or 300ml) with tightly fitting lid, a pen, and a tea cup for sampling tea. Copies of The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies will be available for purchase for $ 25.

About the Instructor

Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG) is a medical herbalist and nature knower with over 20 years of clinical and herbal medicine making experience in private practice in Vancouver, BC. She enjoys providing usable tools for optimal health through inspiration and education. She is the author of the “Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies” (August 2016) and current president of the Canadian Herbalist’s Association of British Columbia. She is a clinic supervisor at Dominion Herbal College and adjunct faculty at Boucher Naturopathic College and offers seminars to the general public. Visit www.katolenyardley.com for more information

Date and Time

Saturday, April 20 | 9:00am – 12:00 pm (3 hours)

Location

UBC Farm

3461 Ross Drive, Vancouver BC

Cost

$95 ($87 student pricing) + GST

REGISTER FOR THIS WORKSHOP

HERBAL MEDICINE THROUGHOUT HISTORY

About this Workshop

Trace the use of herbal medicines throughout history and different cultures during this evening of storytelling and folklore. Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG) ~ Medical Herbalist will discuss influential herbalists such as Hildegard, Galen and Hippocrates, and will focus on some important plants and their uses from traditional, to current scientific studies. Leave with a greater understanding of how plants play an important role in our society and health and leave with a greater appreciation of the meandering history of plant medicine. Copies of The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies will be available for purchase for $25.

About the Instructor

Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG) is a medical herbalist and nature knower with over 20 years of clinical and herbal medicine making experience in private practice in Vancouver, BC. She enjoys providing usable tools for optimal health through inspiration and education. She is the author of the “Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies” (August 2016) and current president of the Canadian Herbalist’s Association of British Columbia. She is a clinic supervisor at Dominion Herbal College and adjunct faculty at Boucher Naturopathic College and offers seminars to the general public. Visit www.katolenyardley.com for more information.

Date and Time

Wednesday, April 10th | 6:30 – 9:00 pm (2.5 hours)

Location

UBC Farm

3461 Ross Drive, Vancouver BC

Cost

$35 ($30 student pricing) + GST

REGISTER FOR THIS WORKSHOP

BASICS OF HERBAL MEDICINE PART 1

About this Workshop

Join us for an experiential and informative talk on incorporating herbal medicine into your lifestyle. This talk offers gems for new and seasoned herbalists alike! We will discuss some back-to-nature home remedies and effective herbal medicines (including kitchen vegetables, spices, well known herbal medicines and wild plants) for common family health issues and ways of using herbal medicines in your home for common first aid, topical application and medicinal use. There will be an opportunity to ‘sample the flavours’ of some gentle herbs during this talk (so bring a spoon and drinking mug!). Copies of The Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies will be available for purchase.

About the Instructor

Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG) is a medical herbalist and nature knower with over 20 years of clinical and herbal medicine making experience in private practice in Vancouver, BC. She enjoys providing usable tools for optimal health through inspiration and education. She is the author of the “Good Living Guide to Natural and Herbal Remedies” (August 2016) and current president of the Canadian Herbalist’s Association of British Columbia. She is a clinic supervisor at Dominion Herbal College and adjunct faculty at Boucher Naturopathic College and offers seminars to the general public. Visit www.katolenyardley.com for more information.

Date and Time

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 | 7:00 – 9:00 pm (2 hours)

Location: UBC Farm: 3461 Ross Drive, Vancouver BC

Cost: $29 ($25 student pricing) + GST

REGISTER FOR THIS WORKSHOP

Introduction to Medicinal Herbs for the Home – October Class

Are you curious about herbal medicine and want to understand more about how plant medicine works and how to use herbs at home? Join us for an introduction on how herbal medicines can be incorporated into your home for first aid use. We will cover a couple of local herbs in depth along with their various routes of application during this evening.  Class taught by: Katolen Yardley, MNIMMH, RH (AHG)

Thursday October 11, 2018 from 6:30 pm until 9 pm at the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens Classroom

Location: VanDusen  Botanical Gardens Classroom | 5251 Oak St, Vancouver, BC, V6M 4H1

To register: $ 35 ~ Click here to register:

Considerations for Wildcrafing Herbal Medicines

Written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG)

Wild harvesting and a return to “foraging skills” has become very popular in recent times- essential it is recognizing the bounty of plants that mother earth provides. On one hand, it is fabulous that more people are learning skills in plant recognition and able to harvest the medicine they need, when they need it – plant medicine is essentially medicine for the people; supplied by mother earth.

      

Wild crafting is very cost effective (there is no markup on the product) and one has complete control over the quality of the medicine; knowing about all processes from start to finish. Perhaps wild crafting can raise awareness of the importance of caring for the earth – it is an ideal practice for those who have an interest in “getting back to the land”; If one spends time in nature, and harvests her yields, individuals may be more likely to care for the earth, recognizing that what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves. Pollution, clear cutting and the use of pesticides all impact the quality of our food and affect our health. Many people are disconnected from their food source and medicines;  we cannot  have high quality food if the soil the food is grown on is contaminated.

   

Here are some important considerations if one wants to begin wild crafting – many of which should be thought through prior to visiting the land and gathering the plants.

Wild crafting can be defined as a return to mother nature to gather the plant medicine which she herself provides. Plants should be harvested with care for the plant and concern the environment (plant sustainability, the ecosystem around and quality of the soil). Wild crafters return to the land to harvest their herbs, barks and roots- walking through undisturbed forests, meadows or hills. Ethical wild crafting is now an important consideration which ensures care for the environment, all of its inhabitants and the future supply of a plant.

     

Plants should always be harvested away from pollutants including: toxic rain pollution and soil which has been contaminated with pesticides or herbicides and ground run off . Take time to consider what is “up the hill from a harvest” as animal waste, toxic runoff flows down a hill to setting in and contaminate soil away from the original site of contamination.

Investigate the history of the land. Old train tracks, mining sites and garbage dumping sites are often the sites of soil contamination even decades after visible contamination has been removed. Harvests should be far from car fumes (carbon monoxide), gas fumes as well as animal waste. Do not harvest from designated parkland or private property.

Whenever possible read up and educate oneself about how to harvest a plant part without killing the plant. Sometimes this is not possible – as in the case of wild cherry bark for example – harvesting a lot of the bark can kill the entire tree. So instead consider venturing out after a wind storm and select the boughs that mother nature has herself discarded for your harvest.

If you are harvesting the aerial plant parts, Do not pull this plant out from its roots  instead have proper equipment, pruning shears to neatly clip some aerial parts-remember to leave enough of any one plant for it to go to seed or continuing sprouting through the growing season or the next year.

    

Do not take the first or the last plant – never ever overharvest. Plants need to be able to go to seed and also sustain other life of animals grazing on local nutritive plants for food. Pay attention to what is around the plant. Are bees flocking to this plant to assist with pollination? Many edible plants are also food for bears or deer. Some species grow on other plants – and disturbing their ecosystem may kill more than 1 plant.

Take only what you need– any typically this is far less than what our mind thinks.

Do no harm. Be aware of the environment one is harvesting from- the plant you are using for medicine has a home and is a part of other plant communities; animals and insects may depend on this plant for survival, nutrient uptake, and essential symbiotic relationships. Recognise that you are disturbing this delicate ecosystem. Take only what you need -less than 10 % of a plant grove, preferably in the middle of the grove; so not the first plant you find and certainly not the last one in the grove and leave NO TRACE that you were ever there.

Proper plant identification is essential- especially for some of those plant families containing toxic look alikes which are easily confused with a benign non toxic plant. Have 2-3 excellent plant identification references- preferable with photos to ensure that no mistaken identities occur. Become familiar with local green medicines (often common weeds)- they are numerous!

Do not harvest endangered or at risk herbs from nature, instead take the time and attempt to grow your own herbs- Growing plants on your own land- get creative- (a window sill or even community garden will suffice) and will  raise your respect for the delicate plants which are fighting in nature to survive both the elements of nature and enthusiastic harvesters. Some plants take 10-12 years to regrow – this is not sustainable. Chaga for example is a very popular medicinal mushroom which selectively grows on birch trees, it takes years to grow and harvesting the mushroom can often kill the tree it is grown on. Again not ideal – this is an example of an herb/ mushroom which is best purchased from a supplier who grown the mushrooms in grow labs.

    

Quality and processing of herbs: have the herb leaves been munched by other plant enthusiasts – insects? Is the plant part to use too young to harvest- in which leave it in the ground for another season. Young stalks, fresh vibrant green leaves contain the most vital medicine. Ensure you use the seasons to determine when to harvest certain plant parts. Roots, rhizomes are best harvested when the vital force is highest in the root – the fall and winter is this time. Leaves and aerial plant parts can be harvested through the spring and summer- however older or brown leaves are not vibrant. Is the herb too old?  – then leave it as an elder in the plant grove.

Gathering the plants is one consideration however processing and drying procedures are also a consideration. Many plants oxidize poorly when drying, and prefer to have lots of room to dry without coming into contact with other plant leaves. Other herbs stalks can be bound together and hung in a drying room with good air circulation. A dehydrator or drying rack can assist. Color should be vibrant, with a characteristic scent of the plant. Store plants in glass container and dried herbs should ideally be used up within 1 year for maximum effectiveness.

Give thanks for your yield- have an offering which may be a prayer, organic tobacco, or take the time to clean up the environment, pick up litter, help return mother nature to her optimal state.  I am a big advocate for researching what plant species may be endangered which naturally grow in a location and obtaining some organic seeds and replanting. We can all play a role in completing the circle for sustainability and ensuring that the plants are available to us for medicine in the future.

 

Enhance your Food with Herbal Powders

Discover the nutritional and healing benefits of herbs into your diet with herbal powders – finely milled plant material such as leaves, bark, flowers and berries. Learn how to incorporate them into daily meals for your family with delicious recipes! Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, RH (AHG) will discuss the benefits of various herbal powders and where you can purchase them. Together we’ll create and sample Herbal Energy Power Balls, Herbal Immune Enhancing Hummus, and Delicious Herbal Fudge Dessert.

Start date: Saturday, April 21 2018.

Schedule: On Saturday, April 21, 2018 from 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM VanDusen Guides Classroom

Cost: $ 40 ~ Click here to register:

Location: VanDusen  Botanical Gardens Classroom | 5251 Oak St, Vancouver, BC, V6M 4H1