Category Archives: natural remedies

I knew it! Incence IS the cure for depression!

A reader pointed this out to me:


Bethesda, MD—Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. In a new study appearing online in The FASEB Journal (, an international team of scientists, including researchers from the United States and Israel, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses.

Breaking News–The FASEB Journal (07-101865)

I will have to digest this a little bit, but it does make a lot of sense to me.  Incense or sulfur.  I know which I would choose…

My only question is, should this be categorized under “natural remedies” or “divine remedies” or something else?



Why do you go on medication, and why/when do you go off of it?

One of the questions that regularly come up to me has to do with the ons and offs of medication. When and why do you go on medication, and when and why do you go off of them? While the two are related, they are not the same.


Why go on medication?

We go on medication simply put because we need it. There may be many factors which go into that decision. It may involve mood, basic functionality, self-image, the ability to handle situations or stress, being able to interact with other people, to keep us safe from ourselves or others. You know your own list. For myself, I knew I had to go on medication when I found myself hating the things that I love: my family, my wife, my vocation as pastor, even my hobbies and the things that I enjoy became a burden. I couldn’t handle living any longer, and so something had to change. While one can go the route of simply counseling or natural remedies, in my view and after much reading on the topic, I simply haven’t found any cure or natural remedy or counseling method that is more effective than anti-depressants. Can you go other routes? Yes. Can they be effective? Yes. But I don’t believe that they will work as quickly or as well as modern anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication, and the body of research seems to continue to support that view.

That’s why I went on medication, both initially and that’s why I went on them the second time.

Why go off medication?

The reason we go off medication should be fairly simple: we go off medication because we no longer need it. Now that sounds very simple, but we often invest massive amounts of emotion and other negative energy into the decision to go off of medication. Here are a few that I see and hear pretty regularly:

1. I don’t want to become addicted.
2. I don’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life.
3. Taking medication makes me feel weak or out of control of my own body.
4. I don’t like the side effects.
5. I can’t afford to take them anymore (iow, money or insurance problems).
6. I have found a better alternative way of treatment.

Now out of that list (and I look forward to hearing yours), four of them are basically emotional responses to medicine (wants and likes and feelings), one is money based, the the final one is experimenting with others ways of treatment.

But remember that initial reason on why we go off medication: we go off medication because we no longer need it. Unless you are a doctor, it is very unlikely that you will be able to determine when you no longer need it, since the medicine working is what makes you have a normal, functional life in the first place.

So how do you know when you don’t need the medication? Here’s a tip: you can’t know by yourself. You’re not a doctor, you’re not a pharmacist, you’re not God. It takes outside evidence. It takes some level of expertise that most of us do not have. It’s why God gives us doctors and nurses and medication in the first place.

If you think you want to try going off your medication, I would suggest the following steps:

1. Wait a month.
2. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of going off medication.
3. Wait another month.
4. Talk to your spouse about it, and anyone else whom you trust that may have some wisdom on the subject.
5. Wait another month.
6. Talk to your doctor about it AGAIN.
7. Then come up with a reasonable timetable and a way of evaluating what changes happen as a result of going off the medication.

One thing is for sure. Don’t willy nilly try to do this. Don’t just decide you are going to “see how you feel” by stopping to take it for a while. That is just not wise.

If you are desperate, send me an email and we’ll talk about it directly. I’m happy to pool my wisdom/foolishness with yours.

Be at peace,

Who Switched Off My Brain? (Book Review)


Who Switched Off My Brain?
By Dr. Caroline Leaf

A parishioner of mine recommended this book to me, and so I read it a couple weeks ago. I checked it out from the library, so I don’t have it in front of me, but I wanted to give a brief review of it at least.

The author is I believe an evangelical Christian of some stripe. Basically what the book does is tries to explain in lay terms how the brain works, and the role that what she calls toxic thoughts and emotions have on your physical, mental and spiritual well being.

I found the book extremely helpful. It is easy to read, explains a lot of the things that many of us sort of know or suspect but can’t really explain, and does so in a positive, useful fashion. If you are trying to get a grip on how your mind works and why, this is the book for you.

I would also say that it would reinforce cognitive therapy in a general sense. Which I count as a very good thing.

My only caveat on the book is that because of her american evangelical background, she looks at forgiveness simply as a choice that one makes, and not as a gift given by God through the Word and faith. This didn’t distract me overmuch, but it is a caution. This, by the way, is also my general caution regarding cognitive therapy. It is a good and salutary method of counseling, as long as we can understand the role of God’s Word in creating faith in the process.

Anyway, it’s a good book. I recommend it, and I’ll probably buy it somewhere along the way here.


Prozac a fake?

The big news today is about Prozac. The granddaddy of modern anti-depressants, Prozac has been around in some form or another since 1972. But today a study was released claiming that Prozac is no more effective than a placebo.

I’m sure this will provide lots of ammunition for everyone that thinks drugs are basically evil. Personally, I recognize the two edged sword which is drugs. At the same time, though, amongst pastors it is WAY more likely to be under-medicated or not medicated at all than to be overmedicated.

So I don’t find this announcement as good news at all. I think it will contribute to a lot of people not getting the help they need, whether it be medical or alternative.