I see tremendous potential in treating illnesses with plant medicine, lifestyle changes and being in communion with God.
Most people separate physical illnesses from their emotions and soul. They just want a pill to cure their symptoms without looking into their inner conflicts. As a medical herbalist, I seek to help individuals self-heal by taking responsibility for their own well-being and activating their innate self-healing potential given by God.
As they become aware of the interconnection of their body, mind, and soul, I gradually share my faith and introduce them to the Church or guide them in praying.
Helping Others Made My Faith Stronger
Over the course of helping people regain their physical, emotional and spiritual health, I have seen how my faith has become stronger and how I lean on God more and more for wisdom and direction. Two patients in particular have strengthened my conviction.
The first was a young man in his 20s who consulted me on his autoimmune Ankylosing Spondylitis condition which had caused him constant pain despite being on conventional medicine for nearly two years.
I counselled him on the need to balance his body and mind. As he was a Catholic, I shared with him how to pray. Within three months, a combination of diet change, Western herbal medicine, and a deeper prayer life cured his condition entirely; he was so pleased he requested me to be his godfather.
“I lean on God more and more for wisdom and direction”
On another occasion, a 13-year-old girl consulted me on her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She was taking so many drugs that I did not know what natural remedies to prescribe her. In fact, after the first visit, I was hoping not to see her again.
On her second visit, I prayed for wisdom on what to do, and I was prompted to give her rose water to drink. Almost instantly, the herb uplifted her spirit. From that day on, I have the wisdom to treat her condition and know its root cause.
Surrendering Myself to God
This journey I am on now would not have been possible if I had not surrendered to God 20 years ago.
I was having a relatively successful career in the corporate world then, but I could not handle the never-ending office politics. I had a deep sense of discontentment that worsened to the point where I was on anti-depressants.
I finally got down on my knees and prayed for God’s guidance and direction. “Surely, God does not want me to be in this situation; I don’t think I want to live like this anymore,” I had thought.
I started to do research and took courses in various holistic therapies, such as touch therapy and nutrition. Despite my passion and interest in these fields, I was not prepared to give up my full-time managerial position as I needed to support my elderly parents.
Then an opportunity to conduct massage training at a retreat on an organic farm in Malaysia came.
After three days of being surrounded by plants and herbs, an indescribable joy sprang within me and the awareness of God’s love for me was so strong that I shed tears during the sharing session with the participants and the organisers.
After this spiritual awakening, I began a relentless journey to pursue plant medicine. Good things came my way; I met the right teachers and guides. I finally made a decision to pursue a full-time career in natural medicine.
Assured By God
Three years into this new venture, however, I nearly gave up. There was not much awareness of herbal medicine in the 1990s and I could not achieve a stable income.
I kept asking God whether I should go back to corporate and earn a better income. During those early days, I visited the Cathedral weekly to pray in front of our Lady’s statue.
Each time I would experience something to remind me to stay on – a new customer, a new project, and even a surprise part-time lecture job to pull me through. It was as though God was telling me I have a mission to fulfil, and I have to learn lessons along the path.
True enough, I had a breakthrough in 2004, and my practice picked up. In 2009, I consecrated my practice to our Lady, as a sign of my commitment to my calling.
Since 2011, I have been blessed with the opportunity to support the missionary work of the Cluny sisters of St Joseph in Nepal, particularly in a village school for low-income families and the charitable works of the parish priest in the capital.
As I continue in this journey, I am inspired to build my practice not as a money-making enterprise, but as a continual search into how best I can support someone in overcoming their condition and bring them to see God in their lives.
My Prayer for the Catholic Church’s 200th Anniversary
I pray that our local Church will put spirituality at the core of our faith life, as our spirituality will affect how we treat ourselves, others, nature, and the environment.
I also pray that there will be greater collaboration between laypeople and the clergy in the Church’s mission. May there be more active participation of the laypeople, taking up responsibility and contributing to our community’s spiritual well-being.