Proximity and Synergy

Today begins an experiment – blog entries with multiple topics. Being a writer, I think I can make it work. Let me know what you think. I want this to be thought provoking and spur further learning or research on your part, not necessarily give you final answers.

Whenever possible I will tie up the multiple topics with a poem at the end.


After the recent attempt to fluoridate Portland’s water supply, local issues and communitarianism has been on my mind again. Last night I dreamed a single word on the topic: proximity. This sums it up so well. Communitarianism is not necessarily a form of government, but a Spirit, an attitude of tending properly to what is close to home.

My interest in communitarianism goes back several years before I even became an Oregonian. For the last 4 years I have felt that so many progressive Oregonians get the spirit of communitarianism that I wanted to observe for a while and learn. I felt as if I had more to learn before writing on the topic and defining it in the popular mind.

Then came fluoride. I watched the city commissioners betray public trust, but ordinary citizens across all apparent political lines and groups work together in a true community fashion to defeat the forces of deceit and subterfuge. They overreached and got a smack down.

Think about what you learn in martial arts. Tai Chi teaches us to move from our center of gravity and not overstep or overreach. The center of gravity (pelvis) must be kept under us at all times so that what we reach without losing our footing. In a more aggressive context, if we want to strike out and be effective, we must keep this balance so that we are rendered vulnerable to counter-attack or defeat. This is proximity – using our power to exert it upon those things that are within our reach and maintaining our power at the same time.

Proximity – what is close at hand. Very utilitarian, don’t you think? Very practical.

Kinda reminds you of that saying “Charity begins at home.”

I envision a society in which people use their power closest to home where it will do the most good, just as a coalition of activists can unite across the usual lines and create…


I once heard or read a story about a patient taking a bottle of an herbal formula to their doctor and the doctor looking at it and saying there wasn’t enough Ginseng in it to do any good. Either the doctor was unfamiliar with the other herbs in the formula or did not understand synergy, or both.

Synergy is how things (or people) work together to create an effect that is essentially stronger than the sum of their individual parts. This is an important principle in herbalism because it can be very difficult to pick out exactly the best herb to use at any given time. However, when we use herbs with similar properties or therapeutic actions, we can get a combination effect in which each herb does its usual thing, but there is greater benefit and fewer undesirable actions by any of them.

A simple template for a balanced herbal formula to use in your own creations if you like

– At least one nutritive herb. These are usually the green, nutrient rich, so-called survival foods: Alfalfa, Parsley, even Bee Pollen, etc. Choose the herb based on the effects you need in the formula. Parsley is diuretic, etc.

– At least one Tonic herb (not necessarily a stimulant that contains xanthine alkaloids like tea, coffee, guarana, etc). Tonic here is in the Oriental meaning of the word – toning/building energy or blood or strength (yang) or fluids (yin). If you are trying to build up your blood (anemia) then you might use Dong Quai.

– At least one cleansing herb to clear out excess that you can observe – excess fluids, excess mucus, etc.

– At least one relaxing, anti-spasmodic herb. This follows the practice of American herbalists from decades ago who noticed that without something to help relax the body the other herbs would be limited in their benefits. That could be Valerian (do not ingest alcohol on days you take it), Scullcap, Chamomile, even Gotu Kola, whatever offers benefits that you need. Chamomile calms the stomach and has calcium to feed nerves and spinal fluids, for example. Gota Kola calms the nerves and cools the blood, relieving itching and irritability and creating mental clarity.

Put together in this way, any herbal formula can be balanced. The tendency even among American practitioners of Chinese herbology is to overdose with tonic/energizing herbs. This can be as dangerous as it can be helpful because an overdose of this formula will not have a balanced effect.

So consider for example that you want to eliminate excess fluid weight from your body. You could combine these herbs in equal amounts:
– Parsley (nutritive + diuretic)
– Astragalus (tonic, drains fluids that other diuretics miss)
– Nettles (tones kidneys, astringes tissues, nutritive)
– Gravel root: could be added in smaller amounts to be safe. This one is a strong diuretic, but an overlooked herb in western herbalism. It dredges gravel, sludge and fluids better than just about any herb I’ve used and does it while calming the nerves and strengthening the digestion. It must be used in small amounts, however. No more than about one gram (two capsules of dried herb) per day – preferably less.

The above herbs combined in equal amounts could be dosed at about two capsules twice daily to start. You get nutrition for the urinary system and whole body. You get different types of diuretics and you get multiple system support.

If you like you can even add Yerba Mate in roughly equal proportion.

Check out — empty capsules for encapsulating your own medicines or herbs as well as capsule filling devices.

Proximity & Synergy

Nature, thank you for your proximity
all around, wherever I look and reach
there is something of beauty,
medicine for body and soul
Such synergy from deep within the One –
the root below for footing,
the stem, a limb for reaching to the sun;
the flower, a joyous open face,
whose petals like rays
show their affection for the light.

— Kannon, Sunday 5/26/2013