Visit part one here to read the start of the story.
Well, the essential oil class featured in part one was great, but that was just one day of my four day Acupuncture Camp experience at the 2014 AHVMA conference in Portland, Oregon.
I also attended a series of lectures on Chinese food medicine and got a slightly different perspective on that therapy, as well as a series of introductory lectures on Ayurvedic herbal medicine. Ayurveda is ancient India’s analogue to Chinese medicine, and is actually the mother of traditional Chinese medicine. It was fascinating to learn a little about this system of medicine, but I can’t say it’s something I’m likely to incorporate any time soon. Ayurveda uses history and pulse diagnosis very similar to Chinese medicine, but the pulse descriptors are all very different! I know what soggy feels like, but what does a leaping frog feel like?
On the second to last day I also attended a super fun lecture on using herbs to treat ailments in backyard chickens. Know anyone who needs a holistic vet for their chickens? I love the little “chooks” (to use the teacher’s Aussie idiom), and cannot wait to start helping them until I get my own, so any takers out there?
The last day was the most fun. I took two workshops on the last day. First I started my day off with a couple of hours of grounding Tai Chi practice, then I went to an herbal preparation workshop. We went over making various things like oil extracts and salves. Then we discussed and participated in the traditional herbalist art of making “physic balls”.
Physic balls are basically herb truffles. These were a traditional way to give horses herbs before we moved away from traditional herbal medicine. They had also been mentioned briefly in the Ayurvedic herb lectures. Essentially to make a physic ball you take a certain amount of powdered herb and mix it with something gooey and (hopefully) tasty. In Ayurveda they often use ghee, and in western herbal practice they would frequently use honey, but you can use most anything that is appealing to the patient. Some of the suggestions were liverwurst, soft feta cheese, maple syrup, or applesauce.
The very best part of this workshop was making physic balls for ourselves to try out the theory. I made very delicious herb balls for myself: a little powdered ginger, ginseng, cinnamon, and astragalus to give me a pick me up at the end of a long weekend, a generous amount of cocoa powder, a smear of peanut butter and a dash of maple syrup. To make the balls you blend all these things together into a dry paste and roll it into a ball like a little truffle. I then rolled mine in coconut and popped them in my mouth. They were delicious! I wish I had a picture to share with you, but I ate them all as fast as I could make them.
I had put a fair amount of herbs into my physic balls and really could only taste a little bit of the ginger. I’m super excited to try these for some of my harder to medicate patients.