I went for an early morning visit. Two hours later my head was spinning with information from a lady who wears so many bonnets that it’s a wonder she can find the right one to pick off the hat rack when she needs it.
Born and raised in Gorrie, Janna Dodds, married locally and now lives at Drew, on a hill, in the bush. Entering the front door of her home one stands in awe – huge beams exposed for their ultimate beauty, golden plank floors, and a totally open concept surrounded by huge windows which look out on nature in every direction. Carpenter husband Don has obvious pride in his design and construction.
The 38-foot long beams were pulled from the Lakelet swamp. The floor is 100-year-old planking from dismantled homes. Working with old order Mennonites, the Dodds recycled as much as possible. The tin decorating the kitchen island came from the ceiling of a Wingham home.
We sat at a beautiful dining table which Janna explained, was her husband’s craftmanship. The top was two 19-inch (48 cm) boards – cut-offs planed down from the huge beams.
As her story unfolded I learned that although Jana graduated as a Registered Nurse, she eventually became disillusioned with the medicinal world. She was helping to heal patients. But, was she actually making them feel better? In her heart she felt that there were too many drugs being used which was only a Band-Aid solution. She was more interested in getting to, and treating, the cause of the disease where possible. It’s hard to cure cancer, heart ailments, or diabetes for these are ‘developed’ diseases and not ‘caught,’ but there are many other disorders which can be improved just by effecting life style changes. Correcting these, she feels, will, in turn, alleviate pressure on our overloaded health care system.
Enter a term with which few are familiar – “Parish Nurse.” Janna is part of CAPNM – Canadian Association of Parish Nurse Ministries. In larger cities the nurse would be on staff of a church but Janna works an independent, who is often called upon as a Tele-health person.
A Parish Nurse is a registered nurse who acts as health counselor, educator, resource person, and volunteer co-ordinator. They look after the client holistically – body, mind and spirit.
Doctors in general treat the physical body, but others feel you can never truly be well without spiritual healing. Parish nursing was started by a doctor who realized the importance of spirituality – he found that regular patients weren’t healing nearly as quickly as those who had prayer.
Janna has been collecting books and information on herbal remedies for years. These treatments au naturale go hand in hand with spirit healing. Remember in ancient times how the monks had an apothecary at their disposal.
In May, Janna will be attending a Nursing Conference in British Columbia for all Canadian Parish Nurses. This is an exciting time where they share ideas on how to successfully integrate their work into the community.
Sundays at church Janna hands out a printed health tip. The one for this week indicated “82 per cent of Canadians are Magnesium deficient!” and that low levels of magnesium are linked to restless legs, twitching eyelids, depression, and heart palpitations. Magnesium controls over 300 reactions in the body. It is a very important mineral found in whole grains.” Surprising fact – surprisingly easy solution.
As Janna threw off her nursing cap and donned her herbalist hat she produced a jar of dried Stevia leaves. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to grow Stevia, a natural sweetener, but had never actually tasted it. Upon chewing a dried leaf a very pleasant taste erupted – sweeter than sugar but totally natural with no chemical processing. This is a boon to diabetics who depend on artificial additives.
Pure honey can be used in healing as well as a sweetener. Placed on burns, it allows the skin to breathe. Since it’s sterile, bacteria can’t grow on it so it makes a successful salve for healing some types of sores or burns.
And that’s when the beehive bonnet came out as Janna described some of her beekeeping adventures.
On the counter sat the last two jars of the previous year’s honey, along with beeswax candles she had made. And that’s when I ventured to ask about ear candling. As Janna explained the procedure I suddenly thought back to the days when I was a kid and went into Harriston’s Egg Grading Station where Norva Bender would be candling eggs The egg was held to a special light to determine the innards – regular, double-yolked, blood spots etc. and then graded accordingly.
Would I now have a bright light in my ear to prove to the world what many have suspected for a long time – that there’s nothing in there! But no, not quite like that. These were rolled pure beeswax tubes. As the candle burns down the smoke appears to draw the wax from the ear. The sound is a soft ‘whooshing’, similar to waves caressing the seashore. It doesn’t take long, and it gives a feeling of complete relaxation and well being.
As we discussed herbs and their various uses as preventive measures (rather than cures), we eventually hit upon some of the literature we had read. We both agreed that Jane Auel’s series “The Clan of the Cave Bear” was a delightful progression from pre-glacial times. And although they wove fiction with fact, it repeated over and over again how the ancients had collected, saved, and used roots, berries, tree bark and flowers for preventive measures.
So too are Janna’s cupboards filled with jars of jams, jellies, dried leaves, lavenders and all types of herbs she uses in coking and flavored drinks. Healthy, yes, because it’s natural.
Janna has the first year completed of a three-year program for Chartered Herbalists. She makes several tinctures such as Oil of Oregano, a strong yet effective tincture that relieves bacterial infections and helps to prevent colds.
Jana has yet another hat. She is certified with RAC – Reflexology Association of Canada. She uses her own Lavender Oil for stress management when doing her reflexology treatments.
The house on the hill is enticing in every way, and inside is a gal who is passionate about making others heal healthily and with a sense of well being. She believes that in an era where our health system is overcrowded, people need to be educated on how their body works and need to explore God’s pharmacy for the prevention of disease.