Category Archives: Health


But your illusions of intellectual supremacy fade as the truth rouses open our eyes. And finite and futile are your imminent days as the awakened rise up and dismantle your lies.

I’m not one to tell others what they should think or do.  I am a relentless advocate of personal rights and responsibility.  I make a point of encouraging people to critically evaluate information from different perspectives, form their own educated opinions and to make and own their decisions.  It is doubtful that I will ever cease in that conviction and mission. 

As an extension of what I just mentioned, when it comes to certain specific topics like childbirth and vaccination, I don’t often publicly share the full extent of my own well-developed views so as not to overly influence that important opinion-forming process in others.  But I have written poetry most of my life and I have decided to share some of it at the risk of repelling those who disagree or don’t understand.  These blog posts will be less doula-esque in that I will not attempt to simply share resources while projecting neutrality.  I’ve seen too much now – too much medical bullying, suppression of safe and effective natural options, manipulated “science”, mangled flesh and tears.  So at this point,  through this particular outlet, I will share some controversial personal sentiments openly and unapologetically.  It is still my penetrating belief that others have the right and responsibility to develop their own thoughts and beliefs for themselves.

I am convinced that many aspects of Western medicine have an important place in our world and that there are some outstanding doctors, nurses and other professionals out there.  However, there is also a great deal of corruption and deception in this so-called “conventional” medical system that renders too many well-intended healthcare practitioners the unwitting accomplices of it’s crimes, and results in the needless harm and death of innumerable people.  I see it regularly in many areas of medicine, perhaps most notably those related to vaccination and cancer treatment.  The following words are born of righteous anger, passion and years of research and experiences.  They are directed toward the nefarious individuals and systems that knowingly and repeatedly place profits ahead of people.  Your reign of greed and ego-fueled carnage is unravelling.



by Cristina Howell

You monopolize wisdom,                                                                                              wielding scepter and crown,                                                                                        while your science is weak                                                                                          and your logic’s unsound.

You brandish credentials                                                                                              as the curtain frays thin,                                                                                              and your impotent dogma’s                                                                                found lacking again.

Those who need to partake                                                                                          in your masquerade will.                                                                                          They’ll assault and defend                                                                                            or close their eyes and lie still.

But your illusions of intellectual supremacy fade                                               as the truth rouses open our eyes.                                                                      And finite and futile are your imminent days                                                        as the awakened rise up and dismantle your lies.

Don’t know what on earth I’m talking about?  Maybe it’s time to do some digging of your own.

Influenza – Drama and Science


I rarely look at my Facebook feed, but last night as I was scrolling through I came across a post by a Pharmacist where she provided a “Public Service Announcement” in which she warned readers of the ineffectiveness of some natural remedies for the flu.  One of those remedies was elderberry (Sambucus nigra), which she claimed only shortened the duration of illness by a day or two.  She did not list any of the sources she reported researching, but assured the trustworthiness of the information shared by reinforcing her credentials as a pharmacist.  This is not uncommon amongst allopathically trained medical professionals (though this is changing!), many of whom deny a layperson’s ability to critically consider various perspectives and to form opinions for themselves. 

I responded with links to studies that are critical of the Influenza vaccine and Tamiflu (conventional flu treatment), as well as links supporting the effectiveness of elderberry in treatment of the flu.  Also included were the package inserts for Tamiflu and flu vaccines that list some serious adverse events to be aware of, as well as the CDC link to the ingredients in various flu vaccines.  All of this was taken from mainstream sources.

Though my comments were both civil and well referenced, they were marked as spam and deleted.  Prior to that I received a reply or two with Simpsons cartoon gifs, a comment that indicated the reader did not actually go to my linked references, and a man linking his own study claiming it came to a different conclusion than it actually did, strongly suggesting he didn’t actually read the evidence supporting his own argument.  These are also fairly common tactics in these discussions – making jokes and accusations, name calling, throwing out theories as if they are facts and outright evasion of debate by strategies such as marking a legitimate comment as spam or deleting it.  None of these involve actual evidence or critical thought, much less respect for others as human beings. 

Science isn’t everything.  It is limited as it is constructed and carried out by flawed human beings.  Studies can even be deliberately designed to ensure an advantageous result, conclusions can be drawn that are inconsistent with the data acquired and studies can be altogether hidden away when research results are undesirable.  Therefore an abundance of science claiming to support something doesn’t necessarily, while a lack of research doesn’t always indicate that a given option doesn’t have therapeutic value.  The latter is particularly the case in natural medicine, where products of nature are un-patentable and therefore don’t provide the large profit margins/funding that pharmaceuticals are afforded.  The former is perhaps especially relevant with regard to vaccine safety, where the standard is to not even use a real placebo (like a saline injection) in control groups, but a different vaccine or injection of other preparations that are anything but inert.  Nonetheless, all types of evidence have strengths and weaknesses, including scientific, historical and experiential, among others. 

Elderberry is primarily discussed here to keep things simple.  A few other natural strategies/options to research for immune system support during flu season are supporting fever rather than suppressing it, minimizing sugar intake, eating whole foods, getting enough sleep, vitamin D3, vitamin C, Homeopathic Oscillococcinum,  Bone Broth, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, and Thieves and oregano essential oils.

Overall, remember that it isn’t the pathogen that determines the degree of illness a person experiences when they are exposed to it, but the state of that person’s immune system;  and a well supported immune system can overcome just about anything.

Below you’ll find links to some science on elderberry, flu medications and flu shots for those interested in views that differ from what is currently prominent in the media.


Here is a study on elderberry that shows it relieved flu symptom duration by 4 days compared to placebo:

Elderberry has an inhibitory effect on flu virus propagation and possesses antimicrobial activity against bacteria that can cause secondary infections:

This one says the elderberry showed “relatively strong defense” against influenza infection in mice:

Tamiflu and Relenza (conventional flu treatments)

Tamiflu and Relenza shortened the duration of the flu by less than a day (16.8 hours):

Tamiflu use could induce sudden deterioration leading to death, especially within 12 hours of prescription:

Tamiflu package insert including adverse events:

Included events are neuropsychiatric events such as hallucinations, delirium, and abnormal behavior, in some cases resulting in fatal outcomes. Others mentioned are anaphylaxis and toxic epidermal necrolysis.…/lab…/2012/021087s062lbl.pdf

Flu Vaccines

Flu vaccination not found to decrease incidence of influenza infection, but was associated with significantly increased risk of non influenza respiratory infections:

Children who get the flu vaccine are more at risk for hospitalization than their peers who do not get the vaccine, especially asthmatic children:…/2009/…/090519172045.htm

The available evidence for people aged 65 years or older with regard to the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of influenza vaccines is of poor quality and provides no guidance:

Influenza Vaccine Ingredients (there are several different vaccines) provided by the CDC:

Included are squalene, polysorbate 80, thimerosal, formaldehyde, monosodium glutamate and Madin Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell protein among others. Keep in mind these are injected, not ingested therefore not subject to the protection of digestive processes.

Influenza vaccine package inserts (provided by the FDA):

There are several vaccines and many adverse events.  A few included adverse events are “Influenza-like” illness, convulsions (including febrile seizures), encephalomyelitis, encephalopathy, anaphylactic shock, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, facial or cranial nerve paralysis and limb paralysis.

The pharmacist I mentioned earlier did not link to her sources but even if she is correct in claiming that elderberry only shortens flu duration by 1-2 days, that is better than Tamiflu, minus the potential for neuropsychiatric events and toxic epidermal necrolysis.

What is a Doula?

“As a new member of the maternity care team,                                        the doula is able to mediate between science and humanity.”

from Childbirth Education-Practice, Research and Theory, by Francine H. Nichols, PHD, RNC, FAAN and Sharron Smith Humenick, PHD, RN, FAAN

Main Entry:  doula                                                                                                              Pronunciation:  dou·la  \ ˈdü-lə \                                                                                Function:  noun                                                                                                                    Definition:  a woman experienced in childbirth who provides information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during and after childbirth

What a doula is:

A doula is a professional who provides physical, emotional and informational support to families in the childbearing/early adoption period and may or may not hold formal certifications.  There are different types of doulas to serve women during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and even during times of infertility or loss

Labor and Birth Doulas are trained in a variety of comfort measures that can ease pain and support the natural processes of labor and birth as an alternative to pharmaceutical pain management, or up until it is available.  Emotions play a significant role in the health of pregnancy and childbirth, and doulas encourage and empower both mothers and their partners on this level as well, providing continuous, focused support throughout the childbirth process.  Doulas are knowledgeable about a wide range of pregnancy and birth related topics and thus are a valuable informational resource, providing the full range of maternity care options that the expectant family may not otherwise be aware of.  Doulas help families to become knowledgeable about all of their options and then encourage them to make their own educated decisions about care based on their unique situations and preferences.

What a doula is not:

A doula is not a medical professional.  She doesn’t perform clinical duties such as vaginal exams or blood pressure monitoring.  These sorts of tasks are performed by obstetricians, midwives and other medical personnel.  A doula does not give medical advice or make decisions for the expectant family.  While many doulas have strong opinions and personal preferences when it comes to birth, their job is not to promote a particular agenda or pressure mothers to make the choices that they might make for themselves;  rather, doulas empower mothers and their partners with the information and support necessary to form opinions and make decisions for themselves. A doula does not replace the partner, but helps support all members of the expectant family according to the unique needs and roles of each person.

A 2017 update of a Cochrane review has shown the following benefits for women who have continuous one on one support during childbirth vs. those who do not:

  • more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • less likely to have intrapartum analgesia
  • less likely to report dissatisfaction
  • shorter labors 
  • less likely to have a caesarean or instrumental vaginal birth
  • less likely to have regional analgesia 
  • less likely to have a baby with a low five-minute Apgar score

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jul 15;7:CD003766. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub5.


The Drug Industry and Western Medicine

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).”

Mark Twain

Drugs and medicine

Did you know that the pharmaceutical industry is a significant funder of primary and continuing medical education, mainstream media outlets (via advertising), medical research, and that they spend enormous amounts of money lobbying the government ?  Are you aware that 9 of the top 10 drug companies spend more money on marketing to doctors and consumers than they do on research and development of their products?  Did you know that the very drug companies that stand to profit from their synthetic, patentable creations also design and conduct the research they present to the FDA attesting to those drugs’ safety and effectiveness? Did you know that legal loopholes allow the FDA  to receive funds from the drug industry they are purposed to regulate and that there is a figurative revolving door of employment between the FDA and pharmaceutical companies?  Are you aware that even “independent” non-profit organizations frequently receive money that originated with the pharmaceutical industry?

The implications of these facts are profound.  The drug industry is incredibly influential over Western medicine philosophy, practice and policy for the reasons mentioned.   That influence affects:

  • what doctors learn and don’t learn in medical school
  • what those physicians read in medical journals throughout their careers and how they practice medicine
  • what university researchers devote their time to
  • the “angle” of media outlets that shape public opinion
  • the laws passed in our country regarding our healthcare options and freedoms

Currently, healthcare in the United States is inextricably bound to pharmaceutical medicine – a type of medicine that primarily utilizes drugs and surgery to suppress symptoms of disease rather than uncovering and addressing root causes so that symptoms can resolve themselves to reflect true healing.  The United States does not embrace our modern conventional system of medicine because the aforementioned professionals and entities have fairly evaluated all options and deemed pharmaceutical medicine the best option.  They do so because virtually every influential organization involved with healthcare in the US has conflicting interests with the drug industry.

I am not saying that there is never a need for pharmaceuticals or that they’re all bad all the time as some can be lifesaving, especially following emergency situations such as a car crash.  I am not suggesting that the average medical doctor is not sincere or well intended as he or she may very well be.  I am  asserting that, if you want to be responsible for your health and your family’s health, you should develop informed opinions on health and on your options based on all available information – absolutely including those resources not sanctioned by the mainstream system which, again, is highly influenced by drug companies and is also often biased against natural and holistic approaches. 

And when you do critically consider all available resources you may be surprised and/or horrified at the benefits and risks related to many common Western healthcare practices that are not openly and honestly acknowledged or are even suppressed.  You may be astonished at the safe, effective and comparatively affordable alternatives to mainstream treatments that are available to you, and your life may be changed by all the things you learn and the opinions you develop in the process.  Maybe not and that’s your business.  But if you want to truly be an educated consumer you have to make that journey for yourself with an open mind and heart and just see where you land.


Related Resources:

The One Hundred Year Lie, by Randall Fitzgerald

Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About, by Kevin Trudeau

Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and The Forgotten History, by Suzanne Humphries

Bought Documentary

War on Health Documentary

Associate Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego, Beatrice Golomb discusses rampant conflicting interests and corruption amongst pharmaceutical companies and mainstream medical publications.

How Big Pharma and the Media Sell Junk Science

Photo Copyright: <a href=’’>zerbor / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Opt Out of the Drama

It seems like there are constantly new sensationalist blog posts, videos and articles going viral online and igniting very real frenzies of fear, anger and disunity.  This happens in politics, medicine and virtually any field of thought in which heated controversy tends to find it’s way and stamp out all reason and good will in favor of hysteria.   

Most recently an embarrassingly unsubstantiated news article made it’s rounds, purporting that essential oils caused some negative reactions in children, the most significant of which (dilated pupils) has never been recorded as a side effect of the use or misuse of any essential oil.  The evidence in support of the article’s claim was shamefully lacking.  It was a textbook example of the reckless journalistic mistake of equating correlation to causation, but you would never know it for the times the link to the article was shared on social media or for the emotional uproar left in the wake of the story.  There were certainly people who approached the information objectively but many simply reacted – instantly becoming afraid, angry, confused, and often never so much as questioning the evidence,  lack of evidence or discussing whether or not the assertions made were even true.   In fact the opposite occurred – many of those same individuals reposted the link, further spreading the groundless story and the madness.   Some who seemed to share the article more sober-mindedly were perhaps attempting to use it as an opportunity to teach that essential oils should be used with wisdom, an honorable goal;  however, fear is a monstrous teacher and inciting anger tends to fuel resentment and compel the receiver of the message to run to whatever conclusions can found at the opposite extreme.

Information is good and disagreement isn’t bad;  it can even be beneficial.    Respectful, openminded discussion gives us all a chance to share – to hear and to be heard, to learn and to grow regardless of whether or not we agree on a particular matter in the end.   And we can share resources, discuss and even disagree with honor and grace.  We can promote these principles in our social media and in-person communities and we can discourage the mania, disrespect and strife that make them unsafe and that actually cause people to become closed off and defensive rather than open to the ideas being shared.  We can learn to recognize and reject “information” that can be more accurately defined as tabloid journalism, fear mongering or propaganda.

I am very emotional by nature myself, so keeping my composure and sticking to facts when discussing something that I feel strongly about is something that I have to make a continual and conscious effort to do – and apologize for my not-so-infrequent failures to do!  I hope never to convey that I am “above” all of this.  I care so very much about this topic and reference it so frequently partly because it is something that I wrestle with myself everyday.

I encourage you to distance yourself as much as is reasonably possible from ANYTHING – resources (like articles and blog posts), groups, people, organizations, etc. that regularly promotes sensationalism, hostility and other ugly and toxic suppressors of intellect.  Don’t “share” on social media the evidence-sparse, hype-heavy stories and support the ratings that irresponsible journalists and bloggers so desperately crave.  Don’t participate in conversations at work where others speak hostilely or condescendingly of those with whom they disagree.  There are some mean-spirited Face Book groups out there that do a great deal more harm than good spewing hatred and negativity about what they don’t believe rather than rationally presenting arguments and peacefully sharing what they do believe – consider removing yourself from those groups!  Connect with those who value people more than making a point, being “right” or stirring the pot. 

No matter what our opinions or how we differ it is kindness and reasonableness, not irrationality and disdain, that nourish atmospheres of teaching, learning, growth and true community. 


opt out of the drama 9

Healthcare – Another Way

I posted this on Facebook a year ago, when I was in the midst of our second appeal to Cigna (my husband’s insurance provider through work) to compensate for services which I was told in advance that we had coverage for:

“My husband fell off of a ladder and sprained his ankle while painting the house on Labor day. I called Cigna before we settled on a facility for emergency care.  I tend to be fairly thorough in matters regarding finances and I asked 3 times if a specific location would be covered and what the cost would be.  I was assured 3 times that everything would be taken care of with a nominal copay.  Later, fine print revealed that services rendered by the location we’d chosen were not covered as I’d been told.  The recorded call confirmed what I’d been told by the representative I’d taken the time to call and that I’d been given incorrect information.  I explained that I found it unreasonable for a person to be expected to review fine print or to consult a lawyer under the sorts of circumstances that necessitate a trip to an emergency care facility, especially when a representative of the insurance company advises upfront that care will be covered.   And I understand that the phone representative was mistaken and that we all make mistakes; however that advice is what motivated me to choose one facility over another.  And under the circumstances, I think it’s reasonable for Cigna to own that mistake on behalf of their employee, honor what I was told and pay my bill as I was expecting.

We’ve also had bills we’ve submitted to Samaritan Ministries, a Health Sharing Organization that we use as an alternative to insurance for the rest of the family since adding us to my husband’s insurance would have cost around $1,000 per month. Two recent, substantial sets of medical expenses we’ve accrued are considered “unpublishable” as they are related to pre-existing conditions and have been submitted as “Special Prayer Needs” rather than in the usual way that needs are shared in this program. Pictured is the stack of over 40 cards that accompanied a comparably sized stack of checks sent over the last 3 weeks by Samaritan members – Christians who chose to give above and beyond the monthly shares they have committed to, in order that they might ease the burden of our otherwise unpublishable (“uncovered” would be the insurance term) medical bills.


In the first scenario described above I am arguing with a huge, lucrative company looking for loopholes to justify denying an arguably valid claim. In the second situation, strangers-made-family-through-faith are joyfully, generously and voluntarily pouring out love in the form of cards that are balm to the soul and money for our practical needs. The contrast here is hitting me on so many levels and I don’t think I can come out of this epiphany the same.”

Cigna never did pay that bill and I ended up submitting our expenses to Samaritan Ministries.  All of the bills were shared by Samaritan members without so much as a grumble or likely a thought as to what loopholes might legally justify not doing so.  In fact, we received cards and letters again, along with the checks!  Those cards, once again, were filled with love and prayers that humbled and served as vehicles of healing to hearts wearied by the physical injury as well as by the apathy we’d received from the Insurance Industry.  

I absolutely believe that businesses have a right to make money and that in itself is not wrong, in my opinion. I can also see that legally, Cigna had it’s pretext to deny our claim. However I did not and do not feel that our family was regarded as a unit of people with legitimate needs and rights that the company had any pledge to meet or to uphold.  I do not feel that we were treated with integrity or compassion and I feel that the drive for profit was put over our family members as human beings.  I can’t even say that we experienced regular, old fashioned, good customer service.  Cigna satisfied the letter of their complexly written legal documents and yet missed the spirit of caring for the sick and wounded.   Perhaps it’s naive to think that spirit was ever a motivating  concept for the health insurance industry at large.   In any case, our family has found another way in Samaritan Ministries and I don’t think that we’ll ever look back.

*Photograph by Cristina Howell

Energy – Part 2: Is Natural Medicine “New Age”?

These are some thoughts I have in response to the idea that the energetic aspects of natural medicines like essential oils are “New Age,” anti-Christian, or even demonic.


I have heard such concerns on and off, particularly from those who are partial to mainstream medicine and also members of the Christian community. I’ve had my own questions and concerns in my journey in natural health. What I often find at the root of these concerns or even accusations though, is not a Christian dilemma, but Americans’ sincere and well intended inabilities to distinguish the difference between what is considered biblical philosophy and language and what is simply Western philosophy and language – particularly such that pertains to Western medicine, which is rooted in the physical and almost exclusively utilizes modalities like drugs and surgery and which generally recognizes and manipulate outward, physical symptoms rather than considering things such as root causes of disease, particularly those causes which stem from emotional or energetic imbalances of various sorts.

There are, however, other philosophies and practices of medicine and life that differ from those which prevail in the West, and to deem all of those automatically as inferior or demonic or anti-biblical is misguided at best and arrogant at worst. Other ways of interpreting life, health, and practicing medicine which recognize the unseen and intangible forces (explained by quantum physical science and which are real and measurable forces and phenomena) are actually older, more effective at addressing many various health issues, still influential in many parts of the world, and are even the sorts of ideas which dominated biblical culture. Jesus himself was, of course, a man of Eastern background and influence.

Western medicine has shown to be extremely helpful in things like acute injuries, but is arguably quite lacking in other areas that involve chronic illness, both emotional and physical. There is also copious evidence of deep corruption in many aspects of the establishment and continued monopoly of this sort of medicine. In other words the “conventional,” mainstream or allopathic way of thinking and practicing medicine is relatively new, is steeped in corruption, and simply is not the only way of accomplishing healing. In fact, it could be well argued that it’s benefits, though significant in the aforementioned sorts of emergency scenarios, are also often exaggerated and it’s risks, minimized.

There are good questions out there which should be wrestled with by those who have concerns. And not everything in natural medicine is consistent with a biblical world view; but that is very much the case for pharmaceutical medicine as well.  I encourage you, Christians, to think and pray for yourselves about all of it.  Each of us is responsible before God for the choices that we make.  In your journey, I urge you to remember that there are many perspectives, and that oftentimes our propensity to equate “Western” or “American” with biblical is, as I mentioned earlier, misguided at best and arrogant at worst.

Here’s an article by Matt Stone that goes into more detail about Christianity and Energy Medicine.

*Photograph by Cristina Howell

Energy – Part 1: An Introduction

“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

Genesis 1:3 ESV


The bible says that light, vegetation, and life on earth was called into existence by the sound of God’s voice.

From a scientific perspective, we now understand that the material world is fundamentally comprised of energy vibrating at different frequencies—like sound.  Our organs, the trees, the ground that we stand on—everything that we see is made of something that we cannot see and yet is the fiber from which visible creation is woven.  In fact, if you were to look more and more closely at an atom under a microscope, at a given point it would seem to disappear because that atom is essentially composed of invisible energy and not of tangible matter. 

This is not a “New Age,” anti-christian, or pseudo-scientific concept.  It is the reality of our world.  It’s the way everything was made and the manner in which life and matter is sustained.  Again, a biblical perspective—In Acts 17, Paul explained to the Athenians that God does not reside in temples made by men and is not otherwise limited to the physical parameters that are so familiar to us.  He goes on in verse 28 to say that, “In him we live and move and have our being,” that God is himself the unseen fabric that holds creation together.  Whether you are inclined toward the biblical perspectives, the scientific, or both, these truths existed long before modern man recognized them.  They prevail in spite of those who are not aware of or who refuse to acknowledge them.  And as we are tempted to congratulate ourselves on what we do understand, we are (hopefully) continually humbled by the vastness of what we do not. 

What does all this mean to us in terms of holistic wellness?  It means a lot of things, many that we have only begun to fathom, some that have been embraced by holistic healers for millennia; and doubtlessly it means a great deal that we know virtually nothing about.  For now I will say that both naturally occurring energies such as emotions, and man-manipulated energies, such as those used in wireless technologies, profoundly effect us everyday. 

All scriptures are quoted from the English Standard Version of the bible

*Photograph by Jocelynn Howell

Guest Blog Post for the Tisserand Institute

Promoting kindness and respect in the essential oil community at large has been on my on my heart in a big way for the past several months.As a doula, encouraging people to make their own informed decisions has always been important to me; and that principle is just as relevant in my YL business.

World renown essential oil expert, Robert Tisserand, asked me to write a blog post on these topics for him and it was published recently.

Here it is.