Conscious Consumption

What of the environment and the therapies that we provide? Even some of the “health” foods we eat are endangering local communities of humans and their economies, before we even consider the animals. Sadly, due to the massive demand for plant-based products, massive areas are being cleared to grow the crops.  In turn, animals are displaced and become homeless, the land is raped and the long term sustainability of our planet is in peril.  

This month, I’d like to talk a little about the environment and therapies…  Anyone who follows The Wooden Tiger on Facebook or Twitter will see a really strong push for conservation of both flora and fauna as well as human rights  This is not about me hopping up on my soapbox (so I’ll try not to get too colourful).  It’s about some really dirty business going on in the background, we perhaps aren’t aware we are promoting as health practitioners and as clients / consumers.  It’s also about the fact that often we are swallowing pills and potions of less than desirable quality or that we possibly don’t need (and, might I add, often at great expense).

I’ve been an animal love my entire life.  At one point veterinary science was a possible career choice.   As the logo is a tiger, it is only natural that I would promote the conservation and protection of this beautiful and precious animal species.  I have room in my heart for elephants, rhinos, the orangutan and all other creatures great and small.  To help the animals, we also need to preserve their habitat.  I want all the humans to have access to the tools to live healthy, happy lives as well. Quinoa, for instance, the Ancient Incan  superfood is now replacing many of the normal crops of the people in those areas.   Farms that once supplied food for the locals are now dedicated to trying to meet the insatiable hunger of us Westerners for singular products.  Coconut palms, once dedicated to the production of fruit and coconut oil which served both export and locals, are being transformed to produce coconut sugar to meet the needs of the rest of the population.  Coconut palm sugar, the new “wonder” sugar touted the next best thing...  Sadly, coconut palms cannot produce both.  Again, this has less than pleasing effects on the long term sustainability of the local farms.  In addition, sugar is sugar.  It may be low GI, but still has the disadvantages of other sugars, with regards to weight loss etc.

We are all aware of what the overuse of palm oil in commercial foods has done to the native habitat of the poor orangutan. The production of cacao supports around 15,000 child slaves working on cacao farms in West Africa alone, has stripped the world of hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest and many of the farmers are still not receiving a pittance of the billions of dollars we are actually spending on chocolate end products.  These are day to day foods.  

Sadly, many of the producers have few scruples, and it’s not only the farming practices that are problematic.  Their production methods are also often questionable – as is the efficacy or quality of the end product.  Imported items are often not subject to the stringent hygiene and quality assessments that we think.  In fact, many supplements made on our own turf are full of fillers and other undesirable ingredients.  This is a discussion for another day.

Aromatherapy?  The production of essential oils is also becoming a concern giving their growing popularity.   It takes around 100 pounds of plant matter to extract a pound of essential oil.  Many unscrupulous merchants are harvesting wild and protected forests in the bid to get these oils.  In addition, many producers adulterate the oils by mixing a lesser oil with a more expensive oil and other dishonest tricks.  This concerns me deeply and whilst I still use essential oils I am very particular about my supplier.  This is not only to ensure that I receive the chemical breakdowns on the oils that I purchase to ensure they are in fact, 100% pure, but also that they have been sustainably and ethically produced.  

Traditional Chinese Cures are really coming under attack (and rightfully so) for the brutality involved in the harvest of both animal components and plants.    The ever increasing growth in knowledge of the efficacy of Chinese medicine and other natural products or “super foods” is providing more and more demand for the production of these products, but the cost is often way too high for the so-called benefits of the medicine.  Tiger penis, bear bile, seahorse, glands of the musk deer, the list goes on.  Don't forget, many Chinese farmers are far from organic in their farming methods.  The majority of herbs are laiden with pesticides.  

These are the reasons I promote basic food and physical therapy treatments before the prescription of herbs and supplements.  In many cases, if we tweak our diet, add something high in a particular nutrient or a food containing what you would take as a supplement, you can achieve the same effect.  In addition, if we are feeding our bodies correctly in the first instance, we will be in optimal health.  I’m not going to start on farming practices and go down the organic rabbit-hole, suffice to say, the quality of our food counts.  If cost is a concern, work with the dirty dozen. (Related article HERE).  This allows you to pick the worst offenders for chemical residue and then purchase standard products when it's less important.  If our food contains the nutrition, there is less need for herbs or other medicines.  When an imbalance occurs, if one looks to dietary therapy, lifestyle issues or stresses and physical therapy, then work with those as a starting point, often the imbalance can be rectified before true ill-health or dis-ease occurs.  

Yes, I do perform aromatherapy, but I work on the same premise as homeopathy in that the smallest of doses are more efficient in prompting a physiological healing response by the body.  We only use small amounts and these are very effective, especially in emotional disharmonies.  Again, being confident in the quality of the supply is paramount as I noted earlier. 

Chinese Philosophy is centred on wholistic wellness, and in almost all cases, an outward symptom comes from an emotional imbalance.   The great beauty of living in 2015 is that we have centuries of knowledge to draw on with all the modern discoveries and technology.  With this in our tool kit, we can have so many choices and alternatives that can both heal us and the earth.


This is important for my clients, as if we work within this framework, we have practical, simple and very low cost ways to address health issues and promote wholistic wellbeing.  In the big picture, we have a much lower impact on our beautiful earth.  Sometimes additional help is required and of course, we should absolutely utilise all that we have at our disposal in this wonderful modern age.  Sometimes ill health takes hold and then herbs, supplements and don’t ever forget our local doctor are appropriate – there is a time and place for everything including Western modern medicine.  **NB.  I never, never, never recommend not seeing a qualified medical practitioner.  If in doubt, if it’s more serious than a sniffle, it is better to be safe than sorry.  Modern medicine and technology all have benefits and a place in our health regime.

Imagine if you will, just for a moment, how much less would need to be produced, if everyone was nurturing and nourishing themselves properly in the first place.  What that could do for the environment!  People wouldn’t be eating the gigantic quantities of processed foods therefore there would need to be no mass production of palm oil or other products used in those items.   Eating seasonally and locally produced foods, would reduce so many costs, transport, waste and environmental impact.

Again, foods that are easily available and commonplace in our daily diets, if of good, fresh quality, mixed with a regular exercise regime and spiritual practices will be contributing to wholistic wellbeing and health to start with.

In conclusion, if we practice a little more conscious consumption the world can become quite a different place.   My advice, think twice, look internally to discover your disharmony and at your diet for a few days before you rush to grab some herbs, check that what you are buying is fair trade and ethically produced, then lastly, ensure that your supplier is the real McCoy.  Oh, and don’t forget, it’s really not hard to grow a few basic useful herbs in the backyard for teas and quick tinctures!  In short, we control what happens with our purchases, what we buy creates the demand.

You can find out all about how to shop ethically HERE

Related articles:-

http://facts-about-chocolate.com/fair-trade-chocolate/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12801499

http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2007/10/traditional-chinese-medicine-and-endangered-animals/

http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/news/stories/food-agriculture/2013/xiao-gui-sanqi-yunnan/

http://www.worldwildlife.org/search?cx=003443374396369277624%3Av3nraqhmeyk&ie=UTF-8&x=tcm

http://www.dariennewsonline.com/opinion/article/EarthTalk-The-environmental-impact-of-essential-4904614.php

http://www.scidev.net/global/farming/news/bolivian-researchers-sound-alarm-over-quinoa-farming.html

http://tyglobalist.org/in-the-magazine/glimpses/the-quinoa-controversy-the-implications-of-the-growing-popularity-of-a-bolivian-grain/