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A sceptic willing to change

 
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As some Permies know, I deal with various medical problems which 'affect my life', you know what I mean: stop me from doing all the things I want to do.  Now, I take drugs. Prescribed drugs, but never-the-less, chemicals to help me through the day.  Kind folks here have put me on to vairious exercises and meditation advice, but I am still clinging to my daily doses.  I have recently begun to notice some rather unpleasant side effects.  Short term memory loss is one, which I find really disturbing.  I was worried I had developed some kind of permanent condition but my doctor (who I trust completely) assures me it is the pain medication (a tramadol based concoction), and my sleeping drops.  Tongue spasms is another.  Very annoying. I have no time at all for making or distilling complicated concoctions, but are there juices or smoothies of specific fruits and vegetables, preferably those that grow in zone 8b/9a that could make a difference and help me to at least reduce the doses I currently take.  I am sceptical that making this sort of change will make the degree of change that will be of real help at the moment, but I think part of that is depression talking and I am willing to trust to this wonderful social network that I believe in so much to at least try.  Which fruits and herbs should I concentrate on growing for help with pain releif and sleepng ( the two are inexorably linked).  I am really willing to try and if I see any results, maybe I will be willing to take things further and build up my own little farmacy instead of relying on the one in town.
Good luck to John for his books - I certainly have bushel loads of elderberries so maybe they would make a good start!
 
gardener
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It's too bad that you don't have time to make a decoction. If you did have the time (takes about 2.5 hours total (including transferring to Glass Jars for storage in the fridge) I would recommend you give the four herb tea (now referred to as Essiac) a trial since it is really easy to make and you don't have to stand over it.
Sadly, with no time to spend on cures, there really isn't anything to do but stick with the pharmacy drugs.

Redhawk
 
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When Steve was in a lot of pain before his surgery and for a period after surgery , I made him a passion flower, scullcap tea with more than the usual amount of herb and left to steep for a few hours.  I kept a willow bark decoction in the refrigerator and he would add a few tablespoons of that to the tea and drink before bedtime...it worked for him.

He hated his prescription narcotics so that made it much easier to experiment on him with the contents of my herb cupboard

I don't think any one herb would be good for long term use though.

I remember that Sharol T. said (somewhere in a thread in 'medicinal herbs') that the source of the pain would determine the particular herbs called for to address that particular pain.

I think RedHawk's Essiac four  herb blend would be an excellent start.

 
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I want to chime in here with the encouraging/simplifying idea that decoctions are just herbal tea.  And there's a long history of making strong tea extracts for easy storage and simplicity of consumption.  

When I was faced with a two week road trip last year and not much likelihood of having time, facilities, or privacy to mess with tea making every day, I contemplated doing without the herbal tea mix that I was using at that time to help me with various issues, and I didn't like the idea of doing without.  So I made a huge batch of extra-strong tea (call it a decoction if you will) in my Instant Pot and then just boiled off four-fifths of the water.  The remaining concentrate "syrup" (I mixed it with sugar and lemon juice for better storage at uncertain temps) I kept in a water bottle in my ice chest the whole trip, and twice a day I'd pour about a tablespoon into a can or bottle of sparkling water.  Obviously this would work just as well in your fridge.

Did it taste as good as a fresh "decoction" steeped in lightly-boiled springwater for a precise number of minutes in a silver teapot and wafted to my mouth within ninety seconds in a bone china cup?  No, it did not.  In fact, it kinda tasted like armpit.  Did it have as much virtue as a decoction that wasn't overboiled for an hour?  Almost certainly not ... but I was able to just use a bit more.  Did it address the issues for which I was making my herbal tea regularly at home?  Yes, comprehensively.  

My point being that there's a way to jam herbal preparations into any schedule, if the need and desire exist.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Dan, I am so happy that you brought this up. It is a concise methodology with no frills or embellishment (which I think is the best method of describing anything). Good on you Kola.

If you run into that problem again start with half the water called for (just speeds up the reducing time) I love to use the little cloth bags that are for containing herbs in soups and so on (I found them at Bed Bath and Beyond for about 4 bucks for 4).
Using these bags I get no sediment in the brew, I can let a decoction simmer away for up to two hours with no bitterness showing up and no filtering needed to get the "gunk" out of the tea.
Lemon or lime juice is great for preserving in warmer conditions.

have an apple kola.

Redhawk
 
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I know this is the most annoying and challenging to implement advice in the world, but i have a huge correlation between how much meds I need, and how well I've slept. Saturday night, I slept well, and required no pain meds the following day. Last night, I only slept 2 hours or so,  and today I required pain meds and an antihistamine, and still was in pain. I've also discovered that since becoming sick, I require far more sleep than ever before - instead of waking naturally after 6-7 hrs, I now seem to need 9-10. Even if it doesn't decrease the pain level, I find I can tolerate a higher level of pain without resorting to meds when I have slept well.

I know absolutely nothing about herbs, but my sleep and pain levels have benefited most from blackout curtains and a heated mattress pad, and investing in a better pillow. As a city dweller, I also find an occasional camping trip (i don't use flashlights) to reset my internal clock to the real day/night schedule helps with sleep. I camp about 2-3 times a year (usually winter and summer), but would benefit from it far more frequently (I missed my usual December trip, and am itching to go now). I also find getting up and spending time outside near dawn and dusk helps reset my circadian rhythms.

Also - what's your version of complicated decotions? Would an herbal tea be something you could manage? I haven't bought it in a long time, and have never successfully grown it, but I used to find a holy basil (tulsi) and lavender tea improved the quality of my sleep.
 
Dan Boone
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:I love to use the little cloth bags that are for containing herbs in soups and so on (I found them at Bed Bath and Beyond for about 4 bucks for 4).
Using these bags I get no sediment in the brew, I can let a decoction simmer away for up to two hours with no bitterness showing up and no filtering needed to get the "gunk" out of the tea.
Lemon or lime juice is great for preserving in warmer conditions.



Thank you!  By looking at a lot of low-quality tea infusers on Amazon I eventually managed to find some really robust stainless steel tea brewing cannisters -- micro-perforated cylinders with solid screw-on lids.  They are like stainless steel teabags, which means I can run them through the dishwasher between uses.  I don't think they are quite as effective, filtering-wise, as a proper fine muslin bag -- but they are much more durable and easier to contain.  I like the ones where both ends are threaded, but they are relatively small; I also found a much larger one which is handy when brewing in volume.
 
pollinator
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Hi Mandy, for sleep issues like waking up in the night and then "thinking" terrible thoughts i use Valerian roots mixed in vodka. Valerian relaxes your body. I just take it before sleeping. I adviced it to my mother when she had sleep issues, but she bought it from the store then gave it to me, and i found it to be weak. So that's another one thing, the stuff they sell is weak.
If stuff is really bad, i take hops along, people use it in pillow fillings, i mix fresh hop cones into vodka, i tastes foul, but it's a medicine.
I managed to get someone so dosey and sleepy with a mixture of those two he fell asleep on the toilet for a while, then slept wonderful in his bed afterwards.
Valerian is not addictive, valium, the chemical deriverative is though, and that's rather unbalanced, and gets you hung over.

The thing with herbal medicine is, they're pretty balanced because they originate from creatures that we share ancestrial DNA with.
Still they can kill you, and there are contra-indications and interactions with chemical medicines to be taken into account.
Just starting to take herbal medicine is rather irresponsible. Any responsible herbal practitioner does take the approach herbal medicine is there to prevent disease rather then heal afterwords and will say with serious trouble, you're reliant on doctors with their modern chemical concotions. Why? Because they're the most studied, there is no money to be made out of examining herbal remedies, you simply can't patent a plant!
They love to look to plants though as a huge amount of modern medicine is plant based in its origins. They just copied the chemical responsible for the noticed effect and put that in a pill, but they have been more scientifically examined than natural medicine. Natural medicine is more reliant on governments doing research, but it has happened quite a bit and some people have taken all these studies and made it into books.
I've got a good scientific book about known contraindications and interactions with modern medicine that herbal practitioners use (i am not), and don't mind looking up some of those if you're interested PM me.
For pain relief i wouldn't know something.. Pain is there for a reason in most cases, in others not. But again if you need pain medications and start to take herbals there can be contra indications and interactions you need to know about.

I think health will always take money or time.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:It's too bad that you don't have time to make a decoction. If you did have the time (takes about 2.5 hours total (including transferring to Glass Jars for storage in the fridge) I would recommend you give the four herb tea (now referred to as Essiac) a trial since it is really easy to make and you don't have to stand over it.
Sadly, with no time to spend on cures, there really isn't anything to do but stick with the pharmacy drugs.

Redhawk



I could do that I think, I just haven't time, space or equipment (no kitchen, water or power yet) to do anything complicated over days.  I am rather nervous about cleanliness in the situation we are in!  I will try to get correct translations of the ingredient names and ask my surgeon if it is OK to take with my weird stomach polyps (the saga never ends...).
Thank you so much for your advice, Bryant.  Always good to hear from you!
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Hi Mandy, for sleep issues like waking up in the night and then "thinking" terrible thoughts i use Valerian roots mixed in vodka. Valerian relaxes your body. I just take it before sleeping. I adviced it to my mother when she had sleep issues, but she bought it from the store then gave it to me, and i found it to be weak. So that's another one thing, the stuff they sell is weak.
If stuff is really bad, i take hops along, people use it in pillow fillings, i mix fresh hop cones into vodka, i tastes foul, but it's a medicine.
I managed to get someone so dosey and sleepy with a mixture of those two he fell asleep on the toilet for a while, then slept wonderful in his bed afterwards.
Valerian is not addictive, valium, the chemical deriverative is though, and that's rather unbalanced, and gets you hung over.



Thank you Hugo!  Lack of sleep is a bugger when your mind starts going over and over bad stuff.  When our house if done I will be able to get up and go and knit or paint without disturbing Him Indoors.  Being retired means I don't have to worry about being wrecked at work.
I will be checking all suggestions with my surgeon - never fear!
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Catie George wrote:I know this is the most annoying and challenging to implement advice in the world, but i have a huge correlation between how much meds I need, and how well I've slept. Saturday night, I slept well, and required no pain meds the following day. Last night, I only slept 2 hours or so,  and today I required pain meds and an antihistamine, and still was in pain. I've also discovered that since becoming sick, I require far more sleep than ever before - instead of waking naturally after 6-7 hrs, I now seem to need 9-10. Even if it doesn't decrease the pain level, I find I can tolerate a higher level of pain without resorting to meds when I have slept well.

I know absolutely nothing about herbs, but my sleep and pain levels have benefited most from blackout curtains and a heated mattress pad, and investing in a better pillow. As a city dweller, I also find an occasional camping trip (i don't use flashlights) to reset my internal clock to the real day/night schedule helps with sleep. I camp about 2-3 times a year (usually winter and summer), but would benefit from it far more frequently (I missed my usual December trip, and am itching to go now). I also find getting up and spending time outside near dawn and dusk helps reset my circadian rhythms.

Also - what's your version of complicated decotions? Would an herbal tea be something you could manage? I haven't bought it in a long time, and have never successfully grown it, but I used to find a holy basil (tulsi) and lavender tea improved the quality of my sleep.



Thank you Catie - YES - no sleep, worse pain, worse pain, no sleep!  I slept badly last night worrying about a hospital thing today and have been in real pain all day despite the drugs.  Am off for a bikeride to clear my head and loosen things up a bit.
I hear what you say about real time - we live in a very rural environment and the best time of the day for me is about an hour before dawn, when everything is coming alive.  When I could do it, I would take the dogs out then so they could run about in the woods and fields without upsetting farmers, who all get up late here.
I am going to try the herb but I will have to check with my doctors first.  Teas should be OK I think.  Basil and lavender sounds yummy.
 
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Hi Mandy, for sleep issues like waking up in the night and then "thinking" terrible thoughts i use Valerian roots mixed in vodka.



Can you please explain this more?  You just chop up Valerian root, cover it in vodka, and then let it soak some period of time before drinking the vodka?  Or ?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Trace, when you use alcohol as the solvent you are making tinctures (herbs soaked in alcohol). Usually there is a 2-6 month "brewing" time, there are several good books that cover in depth the making of all the different methods for herbals in solution (a tea is a solution).

When you are using valerian there are a few things you need to know about the plants you are using. Freshness counts (fresher means easier dissolving of the prime ingredients in the plant, this holds true for any herb), age of the plant counts older plants will have more of the "active" ingredients and in the case of Valerian and digitalis (fox glove) potency can be high enough to create a deadly situation so knowing how old the plant is helps to make sure you don't overdose.

If you can find a local herbalist, they should be willing to teach you about the herbs you want to learn to use as well as the best ways to use them. This will almost certainly cost you some money but so does college and the herbalist knowledge is generally very useful far longer than some of what they expect you to learn in college. The other method is to purchase the books (I have around 1k invested in my reference books on herbology) and study them, this is a good way to go for some folks. There are also sites online where you can learn herbology on a fee basis, including TCM (traditional Chinese medicine).

Redhawk
 
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I really liked Dan's using the instapot for making a tea concentrate, great idea!

Mandy, they have Redhawk's Essiac Tea here:

Amazon Link for Essiac Tea Blend

Probably not as good as something made at home though it would give you a chance to try it if you can find a source where you live. Or the ingrediants, at least:

Sheep Sorrel, Slippery Elm Bark, Burdock Root, Turkey Rhubarb





 
Bryant RedHawk
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This is where I currently purchase my Essiac herbal blend,  Essiac with Sheep Sorrel Roots  just in case anyone wanted to know.

lf someone is selling the herbal blend but don't mention that it contains the Sheep Sorrel roots, it isn't nearly as good. The sorrel roots are necessary for the decoction to work the way it is supposed to work.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Anne Miller wrote:Mandy, they have Redhawk's Essiac Tea here:
Amazon Link for Essiac Tea Blend



Thank you so much, Anne. I will give it a try and if it is effective I will plant the ingredients on my herby hugel.
 
Hugo Morvan
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Hi Trace, yeah basicly that's it.
I go out in spring, because then they flower, they're easy to recognize.
Wash the worst of the dirt off the roots, then cut them of with some good kitchen scissors, wash all again.
Quite small they can be, half inch or something. alcohol gets more entry when cut more. I've kept them recognizable , maybe in future i will mash them up a bit more.
Put it in a jar and poor vodka or something on it and shake regularly.
The roots are white, swell a bit and first it becomes a foul liquid, after weeks it gets like coffee, like on the picture.
Exact requirements i wouldn't know about, but i just try it, in a dark jar with a squeezer dripper next to bed, few drops in a glass of water, if it didn't have enough effect, a bit more next time.
It does have an earthy taste, i didn't appreciate it at first, but now when i make it i chew some while fixing the medicine.
I got a friend who is ADHD like and couldn't pass her car driving exams, her teacher was amazed at the calming effect it had on her and she claims she passed because of it, i hadn't seen her for a year, she flew around my neck exclaiming " i passed because of your Valerian!"  Kisses and all. It's good stuff!
VALERIAN.jpg
[Thumbnail for VALERIAN.jpg]
 
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I know you are wanting to 'grow' your medicine... but turmeric (curcumin) capsules have pretty much eliminated my historical, multiple, daily doses of ibuprofen and codeine with acetaminophen. I was a true skeptic, but it made a tremendous difference for me (along with chiro, acupuncture and massage).

With no intention of sounding racist, I figure those folks in India who consume it constantly in their food must be on to something - with the rate of poverty and the poor doing so much physically intensive labour I doubt fancy pharmaceuticals are an option for them.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:I know you are wanting to 'grow' your medicine... but turmeric (curcumin) capsules have pretty much eliminated my historical, multiple, daily doses of ibuprofen and codeine with acetaminophen. I was a true skeptic, but it made a tremendous difference for me



Thank you Lorinne! Worth a try!
 
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I am passionate about health and have been learning about many different modalities through the years! I am now focusing on herbs because I think we are going to need their services in the future Currently doing a plant identification course and then a plant medicine making course from May. I also watch as many free videos as I can. I always look for the best in their field (I did my Permaculture Designer Certificate online with Geoff Lawton) and Sajah Popham is just amazing and so generous, he gives out so much free information and always in depth. I'm currently watching his Vitalist mini course (would love to do that maybe next year). He has both a scientific and spiritual background as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda among others and has been able to distill all his knowledge. I've bought his book Evolutionary Herbalism.

Like you I live in Spain and if you speak Spanish I know of a really good herbalist / naturapath in Galicia. He is the cousin of a lady in my village who is really savvy about all things healing. While I haven't needed his services, I did meet him and he is a really lovely human being. If you are interested I will find out where he is based. Another great resource we have here in Spain is Josep Pamies. He sells herbs, seeds and teas both singles and combinations for a huge variety of conditions. His website is https://pamiesvitae.com/es/tienda-online.html and he is another truly wonderful human being. His son is into permaculture.

I have been asked to edit my post. Please check out my full post in the cider press forum.

She is now also trying withania somnifera, ashwaganda and swears that when she had a bad a bad fall and sprained ankle  she didn't any but the initial pain even though the doctor told her to stay off it for 2 weeks that it was the ashwaganda. I recommended it because it is a great pick me up for older people (I'm 66) plus it helps restore natural sleep patterns. Ashwaganda is paricularly great for Vata or Kapha types (cold and dry or cold and damp constitutions.)

As mentioned above, tulsi is another fabulous herb and makes a really tasty tea. Both of them are really, really easy to grow from seed or to buy as plants. When I place an order with pamiesvitae I tend to overorder as the really expensive part is the postage. I harvested the roots from myy one year old ashwaganda plant and the tea was  than the much less bitter an the powder I have been using. I squished one of the berries and just covered it lightly with soil and I now have about 20 seedlings. Just like growing tomatoes (perhaps a bit easier in my climate, but easy enough to grow indoors).

I'm also experimenting with Meadowsweet Ulmaria filipendula for pain relief and my 85 year old friend loved drinking the tea Bayer chose meadowsweet to make aspirin the old scientific name was spirea I tthink. It is more gentle on the stomach than willow bark. But I would not  recommend without knowing more.

If you would like more info on any of the above just let me know or even if you just want to chat I am on skype. I am a retired EFT therapist and if you would like to know more about how you can use it for pain I would be delighted to talk you through it, there is nothing more rewarding than sharing things that have worked for me
 
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Please, please keep in mind, when you use ANY synthetic prescription drug, especially long term, that it WILL degrade either your liver or your kidneys in time, as those are the pathways any drug takes. So you must decide...are the symptoms you have or fear  bad enough to  risk your liver or your kidneys? If not,  then begin to wean off the drugs. Doctors will tell you this if you force them to. They do not often offer the info. If you read the inserts when you purchase , they will tell you as well.
 
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I urge you to think of each new practice as an experiment. You will probably make many types of tea. Usually called infusions. They are made quickly.  Decoctions take longer because they are usually tougher material, like twigs, bark, or roots.  You will probably feel just a little better with each practice you adopt, but over time, it will be huge. The experiments that worked will become habits, and you won't even realize that you are doing something anymore. They will be automatic.  You will probably start to notice plants and mushrooms and learn to ID and forage them in your area.  Then you will learn what you can cultivate in your climate and space.  You will probably find good herb stores online and in person.    Perhaps friends will allow you to cultivate something as well.  You will get better, not just from the nutrition and medicine you are taking, but also from the innumerable instance of removing bad interactions from your body. I have read of countless instances in which some med depletes a mineral, vitamin or necessary human substance which then prevents your body from healing naturally.  The med model is to keep you on meds.  They need you to do that to keep their corporate shareholder value. You do not need that. You need to become healthier over time.  
John S
PDX OR
 
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The infusion and decoction ideas are worth trying, but how about subtracting some things.

I know of many people who are sensitive to wheat, dairy, and other foods, although it’s not obvious. By reducing or eliminating the target foods, over time their physical problems subside. Myself, when I gave up wheat, my mucus problem virtually disappeared. It had me coughing all my waking hours due to the tickle of post nasal drip into the back of the throat.  Sugar is another possible problem, whether from the sugar bowl or fruit or starchy vegetables. A potatoes raises blood almost as quickly and as much as table sugar. It never hurt anyone to go 30 days without sweets or starchy foods as an experiment.

I may be preaching to the choir here. I never thought I was eating too much sugar until I realized how much sugar (carbohydrate) was in my “healthy” diet. Good luck.
 
John Suavecito
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Yes, and there's also a big difference between just eating a huge white potato by itself(who would ever do that?), and eating a small red or purple potato and mixing it with chile, yogurt, chives and other green leafies. They slow down the glycemic spike significantly and add flavor and nutrition. Also, there's a big difference between eating instant oatmeal with sugar in it, and scottish or rolled oats with walnuts, craisins, and black strap molasses.  Experiment with what helps you recover!
John S
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Jane Reed
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John, a slower glycemic response doesn’t mitigate the harm of total insulin release in a person who has insulin resistance. I don’t know if insulin resistance is the problem in this case; it might be or might not be. For a sensitive person, it’s possible very small amounts of simple carbohydrates are problematic.

As for nutrition, I don’t believe the nutrition in a bowl of oatmeal can’t be found elsewhere.  Many whole foods including oatmeal, contain a variety of vitamins and minerals.  For the case in question, a seemingly intractable condition, why not test out a diet different to what he has been consuming to date?  Complete nutrition can be found in foods other than wheat or carbs or whatever.  The poor guy needs alternatives and a change in diet, whatever it might look like for him, may be useful, if he hasn’t given single food (or class of foods) elimination a try.

Mrs. skeptic was looking for ideas and I don’t believe mine is radical.  What do you suggest for this case, other than a criticism of my idea?
 
John Suavecito
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Hello,
The reason I started my last post with "Yes", was because I was agreeing with Jane, and thought she had good ideas.  My point was that experimenting to see what works,  would help. I don't understand why Jane thought that the main point of my post was to criticize her idea.  My view is that with intractable problems, many experiments are useful. People who become healthy seem to build many little positive habits over time and they become so automatic, that they have forgotten that they made the change originally.  Saying that one thing, like "Never eat meat", or "Only eat plants" or "Never eat carbs" will work, are single solutions. In my opinion, one single solution will rarely be the kind of thing that moves someone all the way into wellness.  I was modeling how applying some of the ideas that Jane and others had used could be helpful with the experimental approach that I was advocating.  The OP never said that she was eating mostly carbs or oatmeal.  She was asking about what fruits or herbs could help.  Cranberries are a fruit. Chives are an herb.  They are both nutritious.  I also agree that adding more whole plant and fungi foods are the main way to build a healthy gut microbiome, and that will be very likely to help.
John S
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