Living Well With Dr.Lynn by Ellary Allis
Folk herbalism was embedded in the culture of Great Island, the small fishing village off the Gulf of Maine where Dr. Lynn Anderson was raised, where accessing a medical doctor required traveling across the causeway and overland through three towns. “Getting to the doctor was a big deal, so we would treat ourselves with what was available,” Dr. Lynn says, seated at a table at a coffee shop in her adopted hometown of Los Angeles. “If we had a hurt or a burn, we would get seaweed from the shore and make a poultice, which would draw the poison out. It was a very organic world.” As a youngster, Dr. Lynn would accompany her mother collecting rose hips for rose hip jam to sustain the family during the cold months of the Maine winter. Across the island, home winemaking was common practice; elderberry wine would provide families with vitamin C when the frost made other sources scarce. The Maine natives that Dr. Lynn grew up with have followed her into a decades long practice as an herbalist; rose hips and elderflower (from the elderberry shrub) feature prominently in her tinctures.
Dr. Lynn veritably radiates health, with her lucent eyes and regal posture, bathed in sunshine and bearing gifts. She’s brought me a DVD that guides the viewer through a program she calls Aero*boga–a series of “cosmic yoga dance” moves that she’s created. Lynn’s yoga practice dates back to her years as a young, single mother in Maine (she had her first child at 19), when she discovered the foundational texts of hatha yoga and the power of asana to manage stress and access spirit. “In the yoga classes I teach, I emphasize the essence of yoga, yoga as a path to self-mastery. One impediment to mastering your life is concerning yourself with loss or gain. You can’t concern yourself with loss or gain, because they’re really one and the same. When you lose you gain, when you gain you lose. I relate that to the body through breath. If you’re inhale, you’re gaining, you’re taking in. What happens if you don’t let go, if you don’t exhale? You die.”
Aero*boga is a system that’s been in the works for six and a half years, shortly after Dr. Lynn fell ill with cancer and underwent a radical hysterectomy. For the first time in her strikingly active life, she was bed ridden and overwhelmed with pain. The first step was pushing through the pain to plant her feet on the floor. “When my feet hit the floor, I was in such pain that I started crying, but I said to myself, one foot in front of the other. I said to myself, I want to get up, I want to do yoga, and I want to dance. You have to dance in this world If you’re not dancing, you’re missing it. And that’s when I started developing Aero*boga. Each move is connected to a Hindu god or goddess and has a spiritual and physical component. Shiva, for example, works on your obliques: we worship the sun god from our waist.”
Dr. Lynn also gifts me two tinctures processed by the Iowa-based Energique from mother tinctures Dr. Lynn has formulated. The first is her Pep Berry Rob Nectar–an immune system booster containing echinacea (immune system stimulant and antimicrobial), elderberry (high in vitamins A and C), and rose hips (potent source of vitamin C)–and a tincture she calls Damiana’s Nectar. There was a period during Dr. Lynn’s battle with cancer when she was taking a damiana tincture twice a day. Damiana, or Turnera diffuse, is shrub in the Passifloraceae family, of the genus Turnera, native to southwestern Texas, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Damiana, nicknamed the “sad mood herb,” is an uplifting nuerotrophorestorative, rehabilitating the connective tissues of the nervous system, reanimating functioning capability and vitality. Dr. Lynn’s formula contains honey, which she says is a natural conduit for the targeted delivery of herbs to the body, and dark chocolate for taste.
Dr. Lynn holds a doctorate in naturopathy from the Clayton College of Natural Health, where she also received a masters degree in aromatherapy. Her adult foray into the world of herbalism happened after she’d relocated to Los Angeles. The stress of single motherhood was wearing on her and she decided to seek out a reclusive herbalist in Ojai, a woman who embodied the wise woman/green witch archetype. Passing through a grove of oranges with blossoms in full bloom, Dr. Lynn arrived at a cottage patrolled by black cats. She knocked on the door and a beautiful woman with long, dark hair answered, the woman who would teach Dr. Lynn to formulate mother tinctures, or the base solution of botanical extracts in alcohol from which homeopathic tinctures are made.
When I ask Dr. Lynn what equipment she uses when concocting her mother tinctures, she replies, “a big kettle and a dark room. You have to have a dark space. I use closets. When I first started, I was in a little apartment by myself. I closed the drapes and mixed in the kitchen at night so there’d be no light coming in. I put good intentions into my mixtures. It’s just like when you cook a meal for someone. I’ll sing a little song over it. It might sound a little witchy, but it’s just like cooking a meal. When you cook a meal with tenderness and love and caring, that meal has your love and positive energy in it. If you’re going to make something from your soul, you want it to come from a good place and benefit everyone and everything.”
For mood stabilizing, Dr. Lynn recommends aromatherapy, since the olfactory membrane is linked to the limbic system, or “emotional brain.” When you inhale an essential oil molecule, it stimulates the receptor cell sites in the olfactory membrane, which trigger nerve impulses to the olfactory bulb, which then transmits the impulses to the amygdala (where emotional memories are stored) and the hypothalamus (which monitors hormone levels in the bloodstream) For mood boosting, Dr. Lynn recommends citrusy scents and magnolia. “If you’re way up there, you want to bring something like lavender and those kinds of softer scents to bring you back down.” Her favorite essential oil is Ylang-ylang, for the feeling of mild euphoria it produces. For insomnia, she suggests putting a few drops of marjoram essential directly on your pillow.
For more information about Dr. Lynn Anderson, visit http://doctorlynn.com