Plant Spirit Medicine Healer Training Begins March 2013 at Blue Deer Center in Margaretville, NY

Margaretville, NY (PRWEB) January 15, 2013

It is easy to recognize how plants offer food, oxygen, and medicines. But less known today is that plants have spirits with wisdom to nurture and heal people physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Ancient cultures and shamans have known for millenniums that the medicine of plant spirits can bring us into balance and harmony, but much of this tradition has been lost in the West. Plant Spirit Medicine has now been remembered, revitalized, and reintroduced by American healer and shaman, Eliot Cowan, and has proved as effective in today's world as in times past.

Eliot is the author of Plant Spirit Medicine, and a fully initiated Tsaurirrikame (shaman) in the Huichol Indian tradition. He began the study and practice of herbalism in the 1960’s and completed a Master of Acupuncture degree with J.R. Worsley in England in the 1970’s. Eliot subsequently apprenticed with Don Guadalupe Gonzalez Rios, a Huichol Indian Shaman. On the occasion of Don Guadalupe’s retirement in 2000, he ritually recognized Eliot as a guide to shamanic apprentices in the Huichol tradition. This was an unprecedented honor for a person of our culture. Twenty-eight of Eliot's former apprentices are now initiated shamans.

Alison Gayek has been teaching Plant Spirit Medicine with Eliot Cowan since 2002. She began her studies with Eliot in 1997 and graduated from the PSM course in 1999. Since then, Alison has maintained a strong effective PSM practice. As a teacher, Alison also teaches graduate clinicals and skills courses, working to teach, mentor, and support new graduates as they start their own practices. In addition, she is a qualified clinical supervisor and provides clinical supervision for students and graduates. Alison has continued her healing work through various pilgrimages with Eliot Cowan and other shamans. She is a Granicera — a Weather Shaman — in the Nahua tradition indigenous to Central Mexico.

Plant Spirit Medicine is the shamans' way with plants. It recognizes that plants have spirit and that spirit is the strongest medicine that can heal the deepest reaches of the heart and soul. In students learn to speak a language of the world — the language of the Five Elements. This millennial Chinese study teaches us to see humans as the expression of the forces of nature. It is important for healers learn to see these forces, to smell them, to hear them in the sound of the voice, to feel them in the throbbing of the pulses, to sense them emotionally. In this way the natural world determines what is needed in order to restore a person to balance. We know that balance is health and imbalance is illness.

In addition to his teaching of Plant Spirit Medicine, Eliot Cowan is the founder of the Blue Deer Center and is a member of the Council of Elders for the Temple of Sacred Fire Healing, which inducts qualifying Plant Spirit Medicine graduates as “Lay Spiritual Healers.”

Blue Deer Center provides an important setting for teachings and practices that promote balanced relationship with the natural world. They particularly welcome ancestral approaches to healing, ritual, and retreat. The Center's origins are rooted in the Huichol shamanic tradition and living connection to the universal and sacred spirit of fire.

AIDS drug supplier Ronald Woodroof dies; Dallas native sought out …

Editor’s note: This story was originally published Aug. 18, 1992, in The Dallas Morning News.

Graveside services for Ronald Woodroof, founder of the Dallas Buyer’s Club, an underground supplier of experimental AIDS medications, were held Monday at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas. Memorial services will be announced later.

Mr. Woodroof died of AIDS Saturday at his Dallas home. He was 42.

The Dallas native attended South Garland High School, then studied photography for a few years and later electronics at various Dallas-area schools.

He was a licensed electrical contractor until 1986, when he doctors told him that he had been infected with the AIDS virus and had six weeks to live, said his girlfriend, Deb McGregor of Fort Worth. She said he then decided against mainstream medicine and began searching for alternative therapies.

Mr. Woodroof began trying medications that had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because he had heard they were helping others live longer, said his mother, Billie Hughes Woodroof.

The FDA considers many of the experimental drugs unproven and even dangerous, although many people who use them feel they have little to lose and believe the drugs can extend their lives.

“When he set a goal, he met it,’ said Mrs. Woodroof. “When he first told me (that he had AIDS), I asked him, “What are you going to do about this?’ and he told me, “I’m not going to just sit down and die.’ “

A few months later, Mrs. Woodroof said, she lent her son a thousand dollars to go to Mexico to buy drugs.

She said he thought the drugs helped him, and he wanted to help others.

Mr. Woodroof made more trips, gathering more medications, and started the Dallas Buyer’s Club. It smuggles experimental AIDS medications that have not been approved by the FDA and sells them to about 4,000 people across the country.

Mr. Woodroof was responsible for finding medication sources, smuggling the drugs and finding laboratories to test them for purity. His search for medication often took him to Mexico, Japan and Denmark.

“He was a maverick, an inspiration and offered hope to thousands of people and worked hard for what he believed in,’ said Miss McGregor. “With his belief and self-will, he was able to live as long as he did.’

Other survivors include his daughter, Yvette Sweden of Odessa; a sister and brother-in-law, Sharon and Eugene Braden of Red Oak; and an uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Schulz of Richardson.

Mr. Woodroof’s father, Garland Woodroof, died in 1983.

Memorials may be made to the AIDS Resource Center, the AIDS Foundation or V.N.A. Hospice.

Saying it saved her, Abate brings holistic healthcare to LES

Catherine Abate and her son, Kyle Kliegerman, onboard the Oct. 22 fundraising cruise for the holistic healthcare clinic at 150 Essex St. Photo by Bob Buchanan

Catherine Abate and her son, Kyle Kliegerman, onboard the Oct. 22 fundraising cruise for the holistic healthcare clinic at 150 Essex St.
Photo by Bob Buchanan

BY HEATHER DUBIN  |  Alternative medicine is gaining increasing acceptance in the Western world. In the case of Catherine Abate, president and C.E.O. of Community Healthcare Network, she not only accepts alternative medicine — she firmly believes it helped save her life.

Diagnosed with stage-four uterine cancer in May 2012, Abate’s positive experience with holistic medical practices prompted her to bring these same modalities to Community Healthcare Network’s Downtown Health Center, at 150 Essex St. on the Lower East Side. The nonprofit C.H.N. provides medical care to underserved New Yorkers at 11 federally qualified healthcare centers.

In an interview last week, Abate spoke about the new Essex St. integrative health center — which will incorporate alternative therapies with traditional medicine — as well as about her own personal journey regarding her condition.

Abate has always worked in public service, striving to help others. An attorney, she is a former New York state senator, and before that was the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Corrections.

C.H.N.’s Essex St. center caters to 6,000 patients a year. According to Abate, this population has “a tremendous interest” in acupuncture, herbal supplements and medication, but lacks access to them.

“Medicaid and private insurance doesn’t cover it, and there’s a great need,” she said.

State, city and federal grants help cover the cost of medical services currently offered at the center. While there is a sliding-fee scale based on income, patients are never turned away.

Abate noted that C.H.N. centers are sited in the poorest and most underserved areas of the city. They have sites in every borough except for Staten Island.

The Essex St. center offers complete primary care, pediatrics, nutrition, social services and other basic medical care. While these services will continue, Abate wants to add holistic medicine as an integral component to improve patient health. The program is in the planning process, and Abate anticipates the revamped facility’s opening next February.

“It’s the perfect site to do this,” she said.

The demographic the center serves is mixed ages with the majority of patients under age 50, while the ethnic breakdown is mostly Latino and Asian. Abate also noted that many patients suffer from chronic diseases, such as asthma, obesity, hypertension and diabetes. These patients are familiar with and eager to try alternative therapies that could potentially benefit them.

Thanks to federal money, additional exam rooms have already been constructed to accommodate the expanding center. As part of the holistic approach, there will be more time focused on personal nutrition. Yoga, acupuncture, energy healing, reflexology and meditation will also be part of the new program. Abate wants patients to take ownership of their care, and she thinks these modalities will help them do this.

“We want the patients to feel better about their care, and improve communication between them and their provider,” Abate said. Three years ago, she started a health literacy program. Results show patients, during an office visit, do not receive useful information that encourages them to go home and change their lifestyle, which is often essential for dealing with their health problem.

“Whether it’s positive thinking about their healing, stopping smoking or eating healthy, or cleaning up their home environment from mold, or whatever,” she said, “there has to be better communication to really make them a partner in their healthcare.”

Abate feels this improved informational dialogue empowers patients, providing them with more balance and control, which will improve their overall health and well-being.

She understands this firsthand.

“I don’t think I’d be in the shape I am in today if I didn’t use the complementary and alternative-use therapies,” Abate said.

Her initial diagnosis, following her first operation in June 2012, gave her 12 months to live. Abate, who is in her mid-60s, turned to Western medicine for surgeries and chemotherapy, and saw an immunologist, which is a field she wants to implement at the center. But she also went to a life coach and energy healer, who taught her the power of the mind.

“Mind, body and spirit come together,” Abate said. “Everyone has the power to heal themselves. I had a lot of healing, and I’m not saying chemo didn’t have something to do with it. But even my oncologists would say, ‘It wasn’t just the chemo.’ ”

One doctor told Abate that he thought her mind was one of her most powerful weapons in her recovery.

The healthcare C.E.O. believes visualization, diet and acupuncture all help effect a change of attitude toward life.

“It adds up, I’m feeling strong,” she said. “I’m not totally cured yet, but I’m on the right path.”

Abate still receives some low-dose chemo treatment, but she has spent many months playing tennis, and, as she put it, is doing “quite well.”

She partially attributes her health status to alternative therapies.

“I’m not suggesting people turn away from Western medicine,” she said. “I’m suggesting Western medicine becomes that more effective when you also utilize holistic and integrative approaches.”

She used to receive holistic treatments weekly when she was sick, but now only goes every couple of weeks. Abate does practice daily visualization and takes herbal supplements.

“I wake up with gratitude every day,” she said. “I see the beauty in things and in people, and the promise of the world.”

To help foster this same hopefulness for others, Abate has submitted grants for the holistic program. She wants the therapies to be free or low-cost for patients.

With that goal in mind, a boat cruise fundraiser around Manhattan was held on the evening of Tues., Oct. 22, with 240 people paying $250 per ticket. Demonstrations of alternative therapies were conducted onboard the boat.

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RIC Prof. Pens Book on Alternative Treatment of Schizophrenic …

Charles Boisvert

Charles Boisvert

Charles Boisvert, professor of counseling, educational leadership and school psychology, calls his recently published academic book, co-authored by psychologist Mohiuddin Ahmed, “Mind Stimulation Therapy: Cognitive Interventions for Persons with Schizophrenia,” a product of his life’s work.

“We could have written it earlier,” Boisvert said. “It was a matter of putting all our work and knowledge down on paper. It’s been a long, thought-out process.”

Boisvert and Ahmed met in 1992, when Ahmed was already applying the methods of treating schizophrenic patients outlined in their book in his mental health practice.

The book presents a therapy intervention model – Multimodal Integrative Cognitive Stimulation Therapy – seen as an alternative approach to treating schizophrenic patients by incorporating forms of talk and behavioral therapy into medicinal treatment.

Boisvert said the model was developed through looking for ways to give schizophrenic patients more care than prescription medication to treat their illness.

“We had such good luck in practicing this model, which provides direction on tapping into areas of the brain in schizophrenic patients that are functional but not reachable,” Boisvert said. “It gives new ways of looking at treatment for those patients.”

The Multimodal Integrative Cognitive Stimulation Therapy model is described as emphasizing mind stimulation to enhance patients’ information processing and ability to engage in reality-based discussion. It is grounded in cognitive stimulation techniques that include body movement-mindfulness-relaxation, mind stimulation using group discussions, and mind stimulation using paper to pencil cognize and self-reflection exercises.

Boisvert said the book is practical, easy to follow and will appeal to clinicians, mental health centers, psychologists and hospitals. Boisvert is also incorporating the manual into his teaching.

The book also includes chapters on apply the Multimodal Integrative Cognitive Stimulation model to substance abuse and geriatric patients.  There are also clinical vignettes that illustrate how the therapy model can be applied in actual practice and provides guides on responding to clinical encounters and issues raised during the therapy as well as handouts and worksheets to be used with clients.

“This approach does not replace treatment, but augments it,” Boisvert said. “It offers an innovative approach. We knew it made since to present the model in a clinical manual.”

The book was released in June by New York publishing house Routledge and has received several positive reviews by psychiatry professionals including Dr. David Osser, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Boisvert has been a professor at Rhode Island College since 2000.  He earned his bachelor’ degree at Le Moyne College, his master’s degree in agency counseling at Rhode Island College, and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Rhode Island. He was a fellow at the Lahey Clinic, a nonprofit teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. His clinical practice is at the Rhode Island Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in North Kingstown.