January 27th, 2014Living Gratefully

Mishelle Knuteson M.H.


November seems to help people focus more on gratitude. In fact, I would say that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of the reflection on things I am thankful for and being with family. Although, to have a joy filled and successful life, we should be focused on gratitude every day, not just at Thanksgiving. I heard a quote by leader and mentor Tim Kelly, “To live a joyful life you must become an expert at gratitude.”

The people that I reflect on that emanate a joyful spirit, frequently express gratitude and often during the most challenging circumstances. Dr. John R. Christopher is one among many that I recognize as an expert at gratitude.  His son David Christopher expressed in the book, An Herbal Legacy of Courage, “My father’s abiding happiness seems even more exceptional when I reflect on all the reasons he had to be unhappy…yet I cannot erase from my mind’s eye the gentle kindness of my father’s perpetual smile.”  As a student of the School of Natural Healing, I hear the gratitude expressed often throughout his lectures.

One of my favorite books states, He who receives all things with thankfulness will be made glorious and the things of this earth will be added unto him, even a hundred fold and more. Receiving all things with thankfulness and gratitude can be challenging at times unless we train ourselves to be an expert at gratitude.

I have learned a tool that I want to share with you that has helped me along the path in changing my focus to gratitude. Much of being grateful is a mind game - training our minds to see and focus on that bigger picture. Our minds are divided, the left side of the brain is more logical and the right side is more creative. So to create more harmony and change, these two sides of the brain need to connect. The tool I learned is to feed the left side of the brain first so that the right side will open and create more.

The left side of the brain loves facts and figures, so one thing we can do to satisfy this side of the brain is to give it a list of things we are grateful for so it can see concrete evidence. By creating a gratitude list, a long list that keeps growing, we give the evidence that stimulates the left brain. It can see how much is there which allows the right side of the brain to kick in and create even more, opening up much larger vision and focus.

Keeping this list visible, reviewing it daily and continually adding to it helps you to transform your way of seeing life through more gratitude. I want to thank you for letting me share a tool that is working for me. I’m grateful to all those that read my articles and I hope that they inspire and help you to live a more happy, healthy and fulfilled life.

Mishelle Knuteson is certified in Rapid Eye Technology (RET) an emotional release therapy, teaches classes in The Art of Feminine Presence and a Master Herbalist ~ graduate of The School of Natural Healing. Mishelle currently works as an Educative Master Herbalist (MH) for The School of Natural Healing and as Office Manager of Christopher Publications.

October 4th, 2013Memories…

Tara pierce H

For many years, a memory has been thought of as a book on the shelf in a vast library; filed neatly away with its own DDC# to be easily accessed, as a whole, when needed. We now know that each memory is a complex construction beginning with perception. With each experience, experts believe that the hippocampus and the frontal cortex analyze the various sensory inputs and decide if they are worth remembering. Each detail, such as the shape of the book, the color, the smell, the sound it makes as you flip through the pages and how you felt as you read the closing line, is connected to the others through electrical and chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. The resulting memory forms a web-like pattern of cells scattered throughout the brain. Each web is built and rebuilt and is more likely to be retained as long term memory if the information is repeated or used. That is why studying before a test is such a benefit to our final score.

When our memory becomes less effective, especially as we get older, it is not always because of a structural or organic problem but simply as a result of lack of use. Studies of nursing home populations show that when patients are given rewards and challenges they are able to make significant improvements in memory. Other risk factors for memory loss include obesity, major stress in life, anxiety and anger, all of which will eventually wreak havoc on the brain. Life can easily and often throw your lifestyle for a loop. Don’t forget to take a minute each day to listen to what you need to regain that balance.

In addition to mental stimulation, what you eat and drink and the quality of your sleep plays a powerful part in restoring good health and mental clarity. Regular physical exercise will increase blood circulation and get more oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the brain as well as Dr. Christopher’s Memory Plus Formula. It is a great way to cleanse, re-build and increase circulation to the brain.

Tara Pierce is a Certified Herbalist and Master Herbalist Student at The School of Natural Healing.

October 3rd, 2013Chaos

Mishelle Knuteson MH

I look at the lives of so many people around me and it appears that many are in or just passing through a state of chaos. I have come to understand that a chaotic period of life is where God, our divine power, is changing our compass, cleansing our lives and bringing us to a place of newness and healing. This follows along so well with the same principle that Dr. Christopher taught - cleanse, nourish and heal. This natural law not only assists us in our physical health but our mental/emotional health as well. The chaos we feel is our lack of preparedness and even surprise at what is happening in our lives. This is often uncharted territory for us and many times it takes us away from our comfort zone. Yet if we don’t move through the shift that is happening we will flat-line, we will reach a plateau that can stop us from living a fuller richer life.


The main message that I want people to understand about being in a chaotic place in life is that it is God’s way of propelling us forward. I’ve heard it called “the wind currents of God.” When you feel like your life is being dismantled in a way that no human is capable of creating or fixing, then you know it is the signature of God. He is shifting us into a place of newness by redirecting our compass. This is the time that we need to surrender and trust what is happening in the moment. Step fully into the experience and be in awe of what is happening because there isn’t much that can be done to stop it anyway. Instead of fighting it, ride through it. Look at it as a test in your life and meet it as gracefully as possible. Don’t get caught up in negativity or questioning the methods of the change. Hold no judgments about what is happening and don’t ask to see the outcomes. Give up the need to ask WHY and do not look for the understanding that simply may not be there, at least not in the moment. Just trust, be in awe of the workings of God. Trying to project ahead can make things more difficult because life is constantly changing and you just need to ride it through to see where it leads you. I’m not saying that you don’t have direction or a vision, I’m just saying don’t get caught up in the worry that things aren’t happening according to your “plan.” Have a passionate faith and trust that you are where you are right now because that is where you should be and you will get through it. Think nourishing and loving thoughts along the way. Chaos is the process of cleansing the old. Trust, thinking encouraging thoughts, and staying in a place of acceptance is the nourishment that will lead to a place of newness and healing.


So rejoice in the chaos. It is a sign that change is coming and something greater and better is on the horizon. It means that God is close and is working His plan in your life. Move through the chaos with grace. Learn what you can from the experience and trust that nourishment and healing are on the other side.


Mishelle Knuteson is certified in Rapid Eye Technology (RET) an emotional release therapy, teaches classes in The Art of Feminine Presence and a Master Herbalist ~ graduate of The School of Natural Healing. Mishelle currently works as an Educative Master Herbalist (MH) for The School of Natural Healing and as Office Manager of Christopher Publications.

Alice Gowans, MH

My first introduction to Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), also known as Holy Basil or Sacred Basil, came while attending the Master Herbalist Certification Seminar at the School of Natural Healing in 2012. My sister and I took advantage of the herb garden outside the School in the morning and at lunch, exploring the collection of plants there. We came upon one we did not recognize; it appeared to be of the mint family, had an intriguing spicy scent and nice little blossoms. David Christopher told us it was Tulsi, and I scribbled the name down in my notebook in the middle of my chemistry lecture notes to remind me to investigate it later. Thus began my captivation with this nice little herb.


I came to discover that Tulsi has been appreciated for centuries in Ayurveda for its many beneficial effects. Its historic uses are many, and include reducing inflammation, lowering fevers and cholesterol, enhancing periodontal health, preventing and easing insect stings and bites, lowering and normalizing high blood pressure, as well as being antibacterial, antifungal and anti-viral. As with our other medicinal herbs, its effects are obtained by using the herb in its natural state, its properties being lost when its compounds are isolated or extracted.

According to Rosemary Gladstar in Medicinal Herbs, A Beginner’s Guide (Storey Publishing,

2012) Tulsi has more than 3,000 years of recorded medicinal use. It is classified in Ayurveda as an herb that “nourishes a person’s growth to perfect health and promotes long life. The daily use of this herb is believed to help maintain the balance of chakras, or energy centers in the body, and to bring out the goodness, virtue, and joy in humans.” Given the state of the world today, perhaps we should encourage everyone the world over to keep a pot of Tulsi growing in the kitchen.

I find its use as an adaptogen intriguing. Adaptogenic herbs help boost the body’s vitality, aiding it to adapt to and defend against the effects of environmental stress. David Hoffman tells us in Medical Herbalism (Healing Arts Press, 2003) that adaptogens “do not block the stress response, but instead smooth out the associated highs and lows”. I like the idea of normalizing the response rather than blocking it, achieving results through a gentle action which is a quality common to many of our favorite herbs. Given the stress most people seem to find themselves facing today, including an adaptogen in their routines would seem beneficial. Tulsi fits the bill, and is a surprisingly tasty option. I have started including Tulsi in my everyday tea blend, and have found it to be quite refreshing in a blend used for iced tea. I would be inclined to include it in my tea just for the taste.

Tulsi is also said to increase the body’s efficient use of oxygen, supplying antioxidants and other nutrients including vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, zinc and chlorophyll. It contains no stimulants and yet is considered a general vitalizer, increasing physical endurance, enhancing stamina, boosting the immune system and sharpening memory.

Tulsi has definitely found a place among my list of favorite herbs, and I hope more people will familiarize themselves with this spicy little powerhouse.


Alice Gowans is a Master Herbalist graduate of The School of Natural Healing and a Reiki Master, and currently practices in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

By: Mishelle Knuteson MH


“This is getting on my nerves.” is a statement that may be spouted out by someone in frustration, yet it is also much truer than one may think. When we enter into a stressful or emotionally heightened situation our autonomic nervous system goes into action to make regulatory adjustments of the glands, smooth muscles of hollow organs, vessels and heart muscle. This action is often manifested by the pupils of the eye dilating, sweat glands being activated, increase in heart rate etc. The body reacts to the stimulus without conscious awareness.

These responses from the body are a way of the body protecting itself.  The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) kicks in and acts as an accelerator for those organs needed to meet the stressful situation. It promotes what is called the fight or flight response, a person responds with heightened senses to stay and “fight it out” or to flee. The times when the SNS comes into play can be summarized into the four E’s, times of emergency, excitement, embarrassment and exercise.

Once the emergency passes the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) will work to bring the body back into balance. This is the “rest and digest” system.  The PNS will also keep the arousal of the SNS under control and not let the fight or flight response manifest in full force.

When the autonomic nervous system is out of balance, such as the SNS being in charge and the PNS is overwhelmed, a person is primed to respond with energy and focus but also with anger, anxiety and aggression. Life’s hassles can put people in a constant state of stress, where even the slightest emotional swing can cause the body to react as if an emergency exists, real or imagined, which can take a toll on the body and brain, leading to all kinds of health problems, including insomnia, depression, chronic pain and cardiovascular disease. Everything will be “getting on your nerves.”

Keeping your nervous system healthy and balanced as well as changing the way you perceive stress can help your overall health. When your body is always running on overdrive the sympathetic nervous system may need to be calmed. Or if you just can’t get your body moving and you want to run from everything, the SNS may need to be stimulated. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to bring the nervous system into balance. With every inhalation, the nervous system shifts a bit toward the sympathetic activation and with every exhalation, it shifts towards parasympathetic activation.

Dr. Christopher often recommended walking in the grass with bare feet to release the built up energy charge in the body. To feed the nervous system, Dr. Christopher’s Nerve Formula massaged down the spine and taking Relax-Ease formula are great ways to aid in the healing.

While excess stress can take a toll on you, the very things that cause it are often the same things that make life rewarding and full. Feeding an overworked nervous system with good herbs and learning to manage your stress may help you to find the right blend of inner fire and inner calm.


Mishelle Knuteson is certified in Rapid Eye Technology (RET) an emotional release therapy, teaches classes in The Art of Feminine Presence and a Master Herbalist ~ graduate of The School of Natural Healing. Mishelle currently works as an Educative Master Herbalist (MH) for The School of Natural Healing and as Office Manager of Christopher Publications.

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