A blog by herbalist Marie Angeli

The Root of the Problem, Pt. 2



Yesterday I woke up in pain.  Arthritic pain so bad I could barely get out of bed.  I finally did it because the dog was looking worried and had his legs crossed.  I considered the alternative and managed to wrench myself upright.

No I wasn’t hungover.  Nor did I have the flu, or another ubiquitous disease.  I was simply toxic.  I’d had too much sugar, meat, and baked goods in the few days prior, and was not paying enough attention to 1) Getting the stuff out of my body, AND 2) Not putting that stuff in my body in the first place.  I’m on vacation, sort of, and I’ve just been a bit unconscious about the usual taking care of things.

You see the body is really a system of assimilation and elimination.  EVERYTHING that goes in must somehow come out.  That means that you can put all sorts of things in:  stuff that’s good for you, like an in season and local organic apple, or some home grown greens – OR stuff that’s really not: like an entire batch of chocolate chocolate chip muffins, topped with a pint of caramel goo ice cream, drenched with some sort of gooey sweet liqueur and set on fire.  The latter sounds more fun, of course, but can your body assimilate anything of use from it, and what happens to the stuff that just sits around?

Well, as we all know, nothing sits around forever.  It’s gotta go somewhere.  Usually somewhere that we are supposed to enjoy it going, somehow.  The problem is that the substances that make up this second choice are those that cause the body to produce a whole bunch of excess mucus.  I’m not just talking about the stuff that drips off the end of your nose, or causes you to hack thru the department meeting you just disrupted.  I’m talking about mucus that goes everywhere.  That gooey mass you just spent an hour shoving into your face is now inside you, irritating the heck out of your tissues as it passes thru your body.  Naturally your body tries to protect itself, and tries to smooth or lubricate the passage.  White flour?  Processed white sugar?  Alcohol??  All sorts of unpronounceable things are causing your body to try to defend itself.  In the process, it is trying so hard that it ends up poisoning itself.  A system that evolved to protect us during several million years of eating primarily what we could pick off a tree or root out of the earth is now faced with petroleum product preservatives, a poisonous substance from an industry operated by and founded on the backs of slaves, and a grain that has been manipulated, processed, bleached, and processed some more until it no longer resembles the original food product that gave rise to the empires of the early world.  In other words, if your food of choice was the second one, not only are you supporting some things that are really not nice, but you are actively trying to do damage to yourself.

I’m sure that most of what I’ve just said really isn’t news to anyone.  And the purpose of this blog isn’t to raise awareness of the world’s injustices and ironies, although one could claim that healing yourself will automatically cause a raising of awareness.  The purpose is to help give information on things that you can do to take control of your own health.

When folks eat the kind of food that poisons them (and I’m feeling totally guilty and raising my hand right along with you), we tend to shovel it in.  For some reason, the more poisoned the food, the more we inhale it.  I think that this is because a food like an organic apple lends itself to good chewing.  You know, the kind that turns the bite you just took into completely liquidated apple.  The apple just tastes better and better when it is chewed to a pulp.  It’s really good.  BUT, the second kind of food, like the muffin and ice cream sundae from hell above, it tastes good for a second or two.

Our mouths have evolved a way of assessing the food we eat.  Sweetness, one of the first things we can detect, is a taste that indicates to our primitive selves that we are eating something that can give us energy, and creates an attraction.  Bitterness tells us that what we are eating may be poison, and creates an aversion.  The presence of sugar in almost every kind of processed food should tell us that the food manufacturers are fully aware of this.  Thus the initial bliss of the chocoholic (guilty!).  But just keep chewing.  Really chew it.  What do you think happens?  You begin to start to taste the ‘other stuff’ that’s in there.  Bland, chalky, hmmm cinnamon?, more sand-like and then bitterness.  LOTS of bitter aftertaste, even after the food has been swallowed.

Hmmm, this appears to be a Catch-22.  You are supposed to be chewing thoroughly, but if you do the food ends up tasting like chemical ickiness.  So what do you do?  You learn on a subconscious level, at a very young age if you are fed the Great American Diet, to avoid chewing your food.  To inhale it so that you get that first burst of sweet or sweet and salty, and avoid the poison taste that happens after you chew for a bit.  The problem with that is that when you do not chew your food, the salivary glands in your mouth don’t emit saliva.  Your mouth gets no help in the breaking down process of mastication, and that means that the digestive juices in the stomach don’t get the signal that they are about to go to work.  If the first part of digestion in the mouth doesn’t happen, the second part in the stomach doesn’t happen.  Or at least doesn’t happen very well.

So the poison gets to your stomach, sits around a bit.  Digestive juices?  Some, but the first part of digestion hasn’t been done, the first digestive juices never excreted, and so the second part of digestion doesn’t get done very well.  The food then passes on thru the digestive tract, where it will have a last chance to assimilate and feed the body.  The body tries again and again to digest the garbage you just assaulted it with, until it ends up at the intestine.  And then the colon.  As the food solids pass thru, they leave a part of themselves behind, stuck in the mucus on the walls of the intestines like glue.  Think Gorilla Glue.  And this gets repeated again and again as time goes on.  Layers and layers build up, and prevent the intestines from doing their assimilation work,  In other words, think a plastic coated tube.  No chance of obtaining nutrients from there.  And as the layers build and the tube gets smaller and smaller, most of the solids get stuck.  The fluids come thru in abundance and then you have irregular stools, diarrhea, chronic constipation (both the kind that makes you suffer and the kind that you never see), and other lovely things.  And your body has obtained very little nutrition, only about 10% of the nutrients you just consumed.  What happens to the inorganic material that your body was able to assimilate but not use?  Well, since the body also couldn’t eliminate it, it finds a place somewhere inside you that is already weak, like an old injury site, perhaps those lungs that hosted pneumonia last year, or maybe a genetically vulnerable spot where it settles and begins a process of deterioration.

This is pretty simplified, but it sounds sort of depressing and hopeless, doesn’t it?  Well here’s where the miracle comes in.  Your body is a miracle machine.  If you allow it to do it’s job of elimination, then it can heal itself of almost anything.  For those places where toxins have settled and created havoc, the body working in conjunction with non-narcotic and non-toxic herbal aids can release those toxins by helping to nourish and rebuild that site that is injured.

So that is where you start.  Elimination.  You HAVE to.  If you actually read the icky bits above, you noted that you weren’t able to assimilate much nutrition from your food.  (BTW – have you ever wondered why in America we suffer from epidemic numbers of people who are both obese and starving?.  Our bodies are desperate for nutrients, and if the subconscious knows that and activates our survival drive, well diets be gone.  We need energy.  We must eat something sweet.  And so it goes.)  Until you can improve you body’s ability to assimilate nutrients, you cannot hope to heal it.  So clear the way for the digestion to work properly by getting all the roadblocks out of the way of oncoming traffic, i.e. your lunch.

Next time, I’ll look at the HOW of clearing the digestive and elimination tract.  AND, I’ll take a peak at some of the foods that can help, and some that can hurt, the healing process.

Until then, be good.  Or not.
Marie Angeli

images and text ©2014 Marie Angeli

The Root of the Problem, Pt 1


When I was younger, I practiced martial arts and yoga.  I used to think, in those days, that four hours a day, six days a week of strenuous physical exertion meant I could eat almost anything.  Well, in a way, that was true.  I had good strong muscles and could throw my body around like a dervish.   But I didn’t feel good.  My energy levels were not as good as one would think, and there was always this underlying ache in my body.  I gained weight no matter what I ate.

If I only knew then…!

Way back before recorded history in my childhood home, I was put by my parents into competitive swimming.  I was very good.  I set national records.  I was aiming for the Olympics maybe someday.  And my folks, bless them, did their very best to support.  They took me to the meets, cheered and yelled and hung up all my ribbons, and proudly displayed my trophies.  And fed me.  Macaroni and cheese, as much as anyone could eat.  Potatoes slathered with butter and cheese.  Lots of milk.  Lots of meat.  Dinner rolls and Bread.  Occasional overcooked veggies, made palatable with sauces.  Salads of iceberg lettuce smothered in oily dressing.  Desserts.  Huge pieces of cake with ice cream.  Hot dogs.  Hamburgers.  Y’all know the drill.  The Great American Diet.

Gradually, I began to hurt more and more.  I didn’t want to say anything, because they really liked it when I swam, but I started to hate the swim meets.  The emotional stress, the bad food, and the screaming people.  I had less and less resistance, became sick more often, began to take antibiotics like candy, and became more and more emotionally unstable and subject to depression.  Fortunately for me, music and art came into my life and saved it.  I could put the adolescent roller-coaster emotions into painting, or performing a gorgeous requiem.  But still, no one sat me down and talked to me about the food I was consuming.  There was no thought of anything other than counting calories, in the early 80’s in the main stream.

Fast forward to a few years ago.  I had done decades in Karate and Iyengar yoga, studied some Chinese medicine and also Western herbs, and my condition continued to worsen.  Got married and moved to a rural environment.  No yoga studio.  No karate of any kind.  Guess what?  I put on LOTS of weight and was diagnosed with diabetes, neuropathy, and a heart condition.  Like millions of Americans, my diet had made me sick sick sick.  However, I had a further handicap.  I was broke.  I was laid off as the mom and pop company I worked for went belly up in the Great Recession.  So there I was, living on a piece of land in the middle of nowhere.  Thank God we owned it outright, because we’d have been on the street otherwise.  But there was no money for any kind of medical care, and the state I lived in has severe restrictions on Medicaid.  No dependent children, no coverage.  What to do?

I couldn’t believe I’d landed in this situation.  I was college educated, relatively bright, had a good work history and ethic, and was now unemployable due to my age, chronic illnesses, and injuries.  But suddenly a bright star appeared.  I received a tiny settlement from one of the injuries.  Not big enough to live on, but enough to pay some bills for a few months.  I had an epiphany.  I’d been continuing to study Western herbalism on and off all thru, and remained frustrated by my lack of knowledge.  So I took a large chunk of the settlement, and enrolled in a school to train herbalists.  I didn’t even really know what I was in for.  I had a friend back in my Martial Arts days who studied Chinese Herbs, and it seemed to me that he just learned herb after herb and then took a huge test on all of them at the end.  I thought that was the kind of study I’d enrolled in.  Lots of memorization.  Not.

Well, OK, you DO have to know your herbs, but there was a great deal before that.  The very beginning of the study was taught in the same manner that a good old fashioned herb doctor would treat his patient.  He’d approach the Root of the Problem.  The Diet.  Yes, you can give lots of remedies and aids to help make a sick person more comfortable, but if you want to help them heal themselves, you need to educate them.  First, you need to educate yourself.

The human body is an amazing and miraculous beastie.  If you just stop poisoning it, it can almost always heal itself, no matter how sick it has become.  Dr. Christopher used to say that there are no incurable diseases, but only people who can’t be cured.  This was because he felt that some people were so attached to their diet and lifestyle that they would not believe or be willing to change it all.  They wouldn’t be willing to give up that red meat diet, the high protein animal food diet, the white sugar and white flour diet that most of us live on.  But this diet causes toxicity, constipation, and inflammation as the organs and joints swell more and more and cause more pain and chronic disease.  Usually, folks then go to their health care provider to get some sort of drug to suppress the symptoms, and the condition stays in the body, getting worse and worse over the years until it pops out in a new crisis.  And so on.  Until death.

To support the body and allow it to heal itself, a cleansing, alkaline promoting and mucus free diet is not just essential, its required. And yes, miracles DO happen, because the body itself is a miracle.  Healing is not about a magic drug or a perfect pill, it is about removing the obstacles to health and giving natural, non-narcotic, non-destructive herbal remedies, not to heal the body, but to help support it in it’s own healing process.

I’ll return tomorrow with more information on how to eat your way free of pain and chronic illness.

(Edit:  I know, I know.  That sounded like a sales pitch, didn’t it.  Really, it isn’t.  There is no huge secret you have to purchase for $29.95 a month, nor a magic pill.  I’m not selling anything except a desire to help heal myself and others with common sense, easily available and long accepted knowledge about how the food we put in our bodies affects our life.  That’s all.  The rest is completely up to you.)

Be good,

Marie Angeli

images and text ©2014 by Marie Angeli



I’ve been thinking quite a lot recently about responsibility.  Wait!  Before you click off, I’m talking about my own responsibility.  For my health.

I take care of older folks among other things, and I’ve seen so many people who are enslaved by our health care system.  Yes, I know, modern medicine is a hot bed of miracles.  Ok. OK.

(Seriously, I listened to an interview today of a team of engineers and doctors who rewire the nervous system for people with prosthetic limbs, using their own body to achieve amazing things like working prosthetic hands.  They move the nerves to replace essential muscles that are missing, in order to make the functions of the pros hands work, Borg-like, humans and technology literally joined.  It blew me away.)

BUT, I’ve also seen many many people who are sick sick sick, CHRONICALLY sick, and are caught into the idea that the only thing that will save them is if some genius doctor spots what is ‘really ‘ wrong with them and gives them the perfect pill.  That changing their lifestyle and taking control of their condition can only give them too little, too late.

The health care industry fosters this view, the idea that our health is NOT in our control, and that we are completely dependent upon a system of doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceuticals to keep us alive.  The problem with this view is that it is fully supported by systems that obtain great financial benefits from keeping it in place.

The health care industry is one of two vastly economically healthy (pun intended) industries in the US.  The other being the energy industry, particularly the industry that benefits from our mass consumption of fossil fuels.  I’m not so naive as to believe that there is one perfect way to do anything.  ON the contrary, Dr. Weil, MD in his book Health and Healing talks about the placebo effect, and the studies done that proved that any healing modality was viable and worked for a patient depending on that patient’s faith in the modality and / or the healer.  That is, those who believe that the only thing that will get them well by that magic pill, are more likely to be helped by that pill than someone like me who views pharmaceutical medicine with deep suspicion.  Unfortunately, they are also much more likely to perish or be severely damaged by drug side effects.

In a recent study, published by the US Hospital’s own watchdog group, fully 1/3 of all deaths in hospitals was attributed to side effects from the medications that patients were given to heal them.  Drugs are no joke.  Hippocrates himself said, ‘First, do no harm’.  That has been the ethical code of the healer for millennia, long before the marble halls on the Greek island of Cos were erected.  In my view, herbs applied with skill and knowledge are the correctives that ‘do no harm’.  An ethical herbalist works with herbs that are considered Food Grade.  That means that their strength is not stronger than some of the whole foods we eat.  But taken remedially, over time the can perform miracles of healing.



The simple rose has amazing healing properties.

However herbs are only one avenue.  There are other parts to this healing equation that include purifying the body and bloodstream with movement, right diet, meditation or prayer, a good attitude, good sunlight and good air to breath, enough sleep and a peaceful environment.

The deeper significance of the placebo studies are, of course, to show us that our healing is our choice and our responsibility. Even the scariest, most threatening of disease conditions is controlled by US, by our choices and our mind.   The body and the mind are one.

In this blog I hope to discuss this and many alternative avenues of healing.  Please email me with the contact button provided, or add your comments to help me address the healing issues you care about.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Be Healthy.

Marie Angeli