by Rosa Kincaid, M.D.
I was a sixth grade teacher in New York City in 1970 when a colleague gave me Back to Eden, a best-selling book by Jethro Kloss. It was the true story of a boy raised in the country by his grandmother who taught him about the basis of wellness and how to heal himself with plants. That was my first exposure to the healing arts. But it wasn’t my last. I began devouring as many books as I could get my hands on about herbs, vitamins, meatless diets and natural healing.
During that period, my son, Kwasi, was experiencing asthma attacks. They started when he was 2 years old and would re-occur every six months or so. By the time he turned 3, they had increased to several times a month. Whenever he would appear short of breath, I would take him to the closest emergency room where doctors would give him a chest X-ray and a shot of epinephrine, which increases heart rate, constricts blood vessels and dilates air passages.
One day Kwasi was sitting on our couch when he had another asthma attack. He was short of breath and began using his abdominal muscles to push air out of his lungs. Tired of those frequent trips to the emergency rooms, and worried about possible overexposure to radiation from too many X-rays, I remembered the Back to Eden book I had read three years earlier. The book explained that asthma was the result of derangement of the stomach. It recommended getting rid of white sugar, cow’s milk and milk products and decreasing the intake of cooked starches.
The book also provided a list of herbal products that could be given to someone having an asthma attack. My mind flashed back to an unusual store in Harlem that was full of very large jars of dried leaves. Just three months earlier, I had wandered into this store to satisfy my curiosity. The man inside, who was wearing a dashiki, told me it was an herb store. Instead of heading to the hospital with Kwasi, I rushed my son to my parents’ home, jumped on the subway and returned to that store.
The same man I had seen earlier gave me a small bag filled with five or six different herbs for less than a dollar. Once I was back home, following Jethro Kloss’ recipe, I dumped the entire bag of ingredients into a pot of boiling water and let them cook for a short time. I warned my son he was about to experience something that tasted yucky but it would free him from having to go to the emergency room where he would surely need at least two shots. He quickly agreed to try it.
I was living alone with a small child and I didn’t really know what I was doing or what would happen to my child after drinking this murky brew. There was nobody for me to consult, no Internet to surf. I had no backup plan or numbers to call. I had my terrified 3-year-old child who couldn’t breathe and who hated the sight and feel of needles. He bravely drank the full glass, went in the living room and quietly sat down on the couch.
He was still wheezing when I sat next to him; I watched and listened closely. After 30 minutes, he ran to the bathroom and stuck his head over the toilet. As I supported his head, he vomited thick globs of clear mucus for at least 10 minutes. When he finally raised his head, I noticed he was no longer wheezing. I was relieved. And apparently he was, too. He laughed, but I am not sure whether it was because he was feeling better or because he did not have to face those dreaded hospital needles.
This was a pivotal moment for me. Here I was, a 22-year-old schoolteacher with no medical training. Yet, I stopped an acute process with a treatment that cost less than a dollar. Even back then, you couldn’t park your car at the hospital for a dollar. I immediately changed my family’s diet and none of us has since had any more medical problems, including asthma. Surely what I did was risky and I don’t recommend that process for everybody. For me, however, the experience with my son clearly demonstrated that the body responds to foods, herbs, vitamins and what I call Mother Nature’s treatments.
I decided to go to medical school after being laid off a second time from my teaching position. At the time, I was working three low-paying jobs that kept me away from my son for long periods of time. The combination of my giving an entire community of dancers free health advice and being mesmerized by television programs such as “General Hospital,” “Ben Casey” and “Dr. Kildare” nudged me into pursuing a career in medicine. At the age of 35, I applied and was accepted into three medical schools.
My medical degree from Temple University gave me another level of credibility. I had been interested in natural healing but didn’t want to be viewed as a witch doctor who dabbled in roots because I couldn’t prescribe FDA-approved medicine. Medical school was a blessing. I believe I am a better holistic physician because I have received comprehensive training.
I look forward to sharing my experience and training with you on these pages. Welcome to the wonderful world of self-healing. We have billions of cells that contain wisdom, memory and energy. I will help you tap into those resources—naturally.
Rosa Kincaid, M.D., is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice and a member of the American College of Advancement in Medicine. She is author of The Miracle of Self Healing: Physician Directed Holistic Solutions. St. Louis Magazine included her on its 2011 list of Best Doctors in St. Louis. She can be reached through her website, DrRosaKincaid.com. Submit questions for Dr. Kincaid to firstname.lastname@example.org and she will answer as many as possible in future issues.
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