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Reverence for Health: 4 Qualities Needed for Healthcare & Self-care

This is one of the most health challenging times in modern history. Healthcare systems and practitioners face dire circumstances in delivery of care to scores of citizens. As a trained medical psychologist, I have devoted over 50 years melding modern medicine with natural health care. From my perspective, the health challenges we face today demand that we review our whole ethical approach towards personal healthcare and treatment. I believe the concept of Reverence for Health, and its four qualities, is a foundation upon which to build both a personal commitment, and a health service model.

A reverential ethic promotes an informed and respectful approach towards life (i.e. Reverence for Life) in order to nurture ours and others’ capacity for joy, compassion, and peace through wellness. Perhaps better said is this reverential motto that guides our business, Cortesia Herbal Products, and our family values:

I want an Earth that is healthy, a world at peace, and a heart filled with love, kindness, joy and reverence. I want my life and every life to count. How can I serve toward this end?

I like to imagine that someday one may see this reverential statement at every entrance to a health practitioner’s office or healthcare facility. It certainly would add to my faith in conscientious care!

But let’s go further: a reverent ethic should also be the foundation upon which to create and promote pharmaceuticals, medications, supplements, remedies and the like. Clearly, wouldn’t you like to know the ethics of the company or person you buy your medicines or remedies from — just as assurance that their heart and mind are in the right place?

Let me give an example. As lifelong dedicated horticulturists and health educators/coaches, we have infused our line of remedies with deep respect for Nature and Health, honoring the soil and plant all the way to understanding the unique health needs of our customers. Our 22-acre Cortesia Sanctuary, including 2-acres of organic gardens, has been an experimental palette for 35 years upon which we have interwoven our knowledge and training in healthcare and horticulture. You will understand this better upon reading the 4 Qualities of Reverence for Health, below.


Respect for the Gifts of Nature

Let’s start with Nature, the therapeutic values of which range from the psychological to the medicinal. Scientists know that spending time in nature, for example, benignly affects brainwave activity and is calming and regenerating, even to one’s spirit. This is why people are attracted to water, mountains, oceans, deserts, forests, parks, and even gardening. Additionally, humans have identified over 80,000 plants of medicinal value and have created treatment systems entirely based around the benefits of properly prepared plant medicines, as recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

To respect nature’s gifts of plants, including medicinal herbs, one must also revere and sustain the biodiversity of nature, starting with the soil and microbes all the way to pollinating insects and water stewardship. The question is: how can we benefit from nature’s gifts without causing undue harm to nature and human?

The best way to answer that question is by example of immersion into garden or land stewardship. For example, we have gardened the same two acres for dozens of years. This has been our classroom and teacher, of which we have humbly and kindly stewarded. By patient observation and respectful exploration and curiosity, a bond of knowledge and duty has allowed us to understand deeply the magic of nature! Indeed, all the herbs in our line of remedies had their humble start in our organic gardens.

In short, with Reverence for Health as our guide, we strive to sustain a healthy Earth so that our organic soil, plants, medicinal herbs, produce, etc. have optimal nutrition and potency. We expect the growers and suppliers of the organic herbs used in our remedies to follow the same reverential ethic. This ethic is inspired by another quality of Reverence for Health: respectful use of knowledge and technology.

Respectful Human Intelligence and Technology

Technology is basically the creation and use of tools, based upon human observation, experimentation and acquired knowledge. Medicine is simply the use of invented or discovered tools and techniques to assist health. Ancient cultures created specific devices and techniques, for example, to extract the therapeutic components of plants. Today, a highly regulated stainless steel, white coat laboratory is standard.

I believe that respectful use of our human intelligence and technology is key to healthcare. We must strive to provide treatments and medicines that do least harm to overall body systems. This is the oath every physician takes! In this respect, alternative approaches using properly prepared plant-based medicines, like herbalism and homeopathy, and more, may provide safe benefits when compared to side-effects of synthetic-derived prescription medications.

Specialized treatment, and/or the extensive use of prescriptive drugs should not be our military form of defense against disease or injury. Each person has a unique Health Story that deserves to be understood and safely supported. For example, the new concept of functional medicine supports the individual’s health history by using an interactive team of practitioners in several fields who more holistically address the total life concerns of a person in order to formulate treatment and support strategies.

In this respect, herbal medicines are an excellent addition to the support team of professionals and other medicinal inputs. Thousands of years of study of the medicinal values of plants have allowed both our human intelligence and technology to find their useful place in healing and sustaining of wellness.


Simple in Means, Rich in Ends

Healthcare has become extremely specialized, and costly. We must be reminded, however, that most personal healthcare is self-care (over 90%!) that does not need complex medical attention (e.g. colds, sprain, rash, slight fever, scrape, etc.). In this respect, any natural plant-based remedies, tonics, topicals, and the like often provide a simpler and perhaps safer strategy, than let’s say prescriptive medicine. Indeed, this is why there are so many over-the-counter herbal remedies!

We commonly hear from customers that they are seeking alternative means to healing — herbal remedies, for example — rather than a suggested surgical or prescriptive drug recommendation. Whereas we are not permitted by law to offer medical advice (FDA guidelines don’t even allow us to discuss the functional value of an herb for the body!), we also must be able to guide a person towards potential uses and benefits of herbal remedies.

The simplest way to understand the use of herbs is to know their “magic” or purpose: to support and help activate the body’s immune system in order to reduce inflammation and to stimulate repair and recovery.

Well-made herbal remedies should not be a result of extensive processing or the addition of fillers or inappropriate materials to the finished product. Instead, as in the making of our organic herbal remedies at Cortesia Herbal Products, the medicinal constituents should be extracted to preserve optimal purity and potency. Other infusions into our formulated products should have a known therapeutic value, not just a filler or the like.

Lastly, one should consider that there are numerous simple supportive strategies that add to the synergy of herbal remedies. Such strategies like drinking at least 3 quarts of water a day, or eliminating refined sugar, or doing a fitness exercise challenge can dramatically escalate the benefits of natural health care.


Kindness in all Considerations (Do No Harm)

Our body is a miracle of reconstruction: it is always rebuilding itself, repairing or replacing systems cell-by-cell often within days or weeks. Given the privilege of our wonderful body it makes sense to ensure that we feel “safe in our own skin.” Indeed, this should be an act of kindness that not only we, but every health practitioner, should uphold.

Safe in our own skin, do no harm, nonviolence, ahimsa — these are universal guideposts for informed and compassionate care and caring. There are at least five qualities to address:

  1. Dignity
  2. Opportunity
  3. Trust
  4. Equality
  5. Safety/Security

Let’s state this simply, noting the necessary ways these five qualities interweave:

Reverence for Health supports the Dignity and worthiness of the human as a real person and not just a case number. This universal right to self-worth should always allow the Opportunity for health care and treatment, not denial. Without opportunity, dignity is an empty vessel. Health care for all is a collective duty of society, not a privilege at a financial-breaking cost.

Additionally, the health practitioner and client relationship must be based upon Trust. This trust must be based upon experience, knowledge, honesty, ethics, and compassion. Trustworthiness is to trust the remedy and the provider of it! It also ensures an Equality of service and care, no matter who the client is or their financial ability.

A final quality of kindness in Reverence for Health is that of Safety/Security. Every individual deserves to feel safe throughout the medical intervention and healing process. This includes feeling comfortable with your caregiver and other healthcare personnel, and their knowledge and skills. It also includes knowing the potential good/bad effects of any treatments, be they surgical or simply medications. Finally, any form of medical intervention implies a necessary period of time or physical space for healing, recovery and convalescence. Such time and space should always feel supported and imbued with positive reinforcement, beauty, conscientious effort and hope.



Every person has a lifelong Health Story. This story is imbued with personal beliefs, traditions, injury or disease-causing events and efforts affecting wellness, including exercise, diet, and stress control. At those times when we need direction, support, or help with a health condition, our first concern should be our safety —feeling safe from financial burdens, feeling safe with a treatment or health professional, and feeling comfortable throughout the healing process. Reverence for Health is based upon what we call “feeling safe in one’s own skin.”

At Cortesia Herbal Products, we treat our customers like family. This is because we know that the world of healthcare and alternative approaches to treatment can be impersonal and filled with multiple views of information that can be confusing. Just the simple concept of Reverence, however, can imbue a deep respect for the human condition — instilling healthcare based upon kindness, equality, dignity, opportunity, trust, and safety/security.

So, when you purchase and use one of our remedies, know that there is a deep ethic of reverent practice and philosophy infused in each one. As both professional gardeners and health practitioners, we honor Mother Earth & Nature and those lovely humans and animals that may benefit from the medicinal qualities of the plant world.

Peace be with you in your Health Journey.

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Forrest McDowell

C. Forrest McDowell, PhD provides his 50 years of expertise in wellness care and advocacy to Cortesia Herbal Products. He is responsible for the white paper Blog articles, posts promoting practical health strategies, maintenance of accurate website information, and more. An accomplished performing guitarist and composer, author, and passionate outdoorsman, he has dedicated himself to natural wellness and the cultivation of quality organic products.

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