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Workshop Spotlight: Pain Part 1: Why Do I Hurt? and Pain Part 2: How Do I Fix It?


In part one of our series on pain, we will begin to explore an in depth understanding of the complexities of pain. In 1644, René Descartes forever changed the way pain was viewed by suggesting that pain did not actually happen at the site of injury but rather was the perception of the mind, after a signal traveled up the brain from the body. This may seem like common knowledge now, but it was a major discovery at the time. Today we are on the cusp of the next revolutionary change in our understanding of pain. Modern neuroscience shows us that the brain and nervous system not only relay and perceive pain, but they also directly control the amount, intensity and unpleasantness of the pain. We have all heard amazing cases where despite severe injury someone felt little to no pain, in other cases pain from a minor injury is amplified to the point of excruciation. In clinical practice, many of the cases of chronic pain have pain patterns that are more complex than the perceived root cause would explain, some conditions, like complex regional pain syndrome and fibromyalgia, commonly present with no structural source, finally there are many cases of chronic pain where the structural cause cannot be fully removed. Effectively working with pain necessitate not only an ability to find and remove the root cause (when possible) but also the ability to dialogue with and work with the pain process. In this class, we will explore the physiological process of pain. We will look at; nociception - the sensation of damage and danger (or potential danger), spinal cord signal transmission - how the spinal cord and amplify or pacify the pain signals on their way up to the brain, and the perception of pain in the brain. Next, we will look at how each of the transmission pathways can become involved in the process of chronic pain. We will explore nociceptor sensitization - how nociceptors can become more sensitive to stimuli, central sensitization - how the spinal cord can amplify the strength of pain signals, and at pain facilitation in the brain - how our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, traumas, and past experience will all fit in to the picture of the pain that we are perceiving. Along the way, we will explore a multi-disciplinary approach to affecting these processes and more successfully working with pain. Approaches covered will include; pain education, lifestyle and dietary modifications, nutritional supplements, exploring the way we feel and think about pain, mind-body exercises, sensory integration, and of course herbs.


In part two of our series on pain, we will use our new-found awareness of the complexities of pain to explore the fascinating world of herbal pain relievers. In order to create an effective herbal pain-relieving program, it’s important to understand how to classify pain herbs, and to understand their unique roles in pain management. To do this, we must first gain an understanding and appreciation for the roll of the pain modulators that our body makes internally. Most of our herbal and pharmaceutical pain relievers work by interacting with these endogenous substances or with their receptor sites. In this class, we will explore the various pain modulating systems of the body, including; GABA, glycine, serotonin, oxytocin, opioids, and endocannabinoids. We will then dive into where and how various herbs (as well as some drugs) effect these pathways. In addition, we will look at the often-overlooked use of topical analgesics applied both locally and to the spinal nerves.

Thomas Easley, RH (AHG)

and Forrest Chalmers

Thomas is a Functional Herbalist, and founder of the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine. He started studying herbal medicine in 1996, and was in full-time practice from 2001 through 2015. He now keeps his clinical skills sharp by reviewing all of the cases for his school’s free clinic, and maintains an active part time private practice. In 2010 Thomas founded the Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine, which has full-time residential classes, and part time online classes. In 2017 Thomas coined the term Functional Herbalism, to describe his unique approach integrating Traditional Western Herbalism, Clinical Nutrition and Functional Medicine. Thomas is the co-author of The Modern Herbal Dispensatory, A Medicine Making Guide, and Modern Herbal Medicine. Forrest Chalmers is a Functional Herbalist, Manual Therapist, Movement Therapist, and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The integration of science and tradition forms the core of Forrest’s philosophy. This means combining the historical knowledge of Western Herbal Medicine, TCM, and historical movement & bodywork with a modern study of anatomy, physiology, Functional Medicine, Manual Therapy and Functional Movement.

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Join us for the 13th annual

Midwest Herb Fest: Growing Strong!

August 2-4, 2019

Glastonbury Institute of Sustainable Living, near Culver, Indiana

Learn: History of folk medicine and modern use of medicinal plants,

alchemical spagyrics, tinctures, restorative yoga, and more

Explore: Herb walks, tree walks, herb, mushroom, and vegetable gardens

Entertainment: Live music, fire spinning

Open Events: Drumming, bonfires, auction fundraiser

Get Back to Nature: Primitive woods camping with hot showers and flushing toilets

Workshops and activities for adults, teens, and children