Sam Gahagan [grannysam]
What is your specialty? What does your work consist of?
Herbalism. I am a Traditional Appalachian Herbalist, using the plants that grow around me to promote health and well being to my clients.
Can you provide a link to a site where we can get to know more about you or the activity you carry out?
What types of clients do you have? Why do they come to you and what can you offer them?
People, and pets, from all walks of life come to me. I can offer something to most, if not all of them. They come out of curiosity, out of need, and out of a sense that they are supposed to connect with me on some level.
I can offer each of them something, from being someone they can feel safe talking to, to guiding them along a new path of wellness and self-reliance.
What is your definition of health, and of a healthy life?
Health is not a static thing. We are constantly evolving and changing. Health to me is not a perfect state of being, but rather a state of awareness and dealing with problems in a positive manner. Sometimes health is managing an illness that cannot be cured. A healthy life is one that is rich in all aspects, from the physical to the spiritual, for without balance in all aspects we cannot achieve health.
What are some basic rules for those who want to live to be 100.
Have good genes. Most of us are simply not programmed to live that long. If we are, then we need to live simply and moderately, with balance in all aspects of life. Happiness breeds longevity, but I have also seen very bitter people live to be 100. I think it's more important to live to be 80 happily then 100 unhappily.
Happiness and health: how much do they have in common, and how much myth is there in their relationship?
No myth at all. A happy person can be healthier simply because they have a better, more positive outlook. The unhappy person makes him or herself sick.
Conventional medicine and alternative medicine: what is real and what is superstition?
I think there is as much myth in conventional medicine as alternative. People who get sick and go to the doctor demand the magic pill to make themselves well, just as many who turn to alternative medicine expect the same thing. We have been conditioned to leave the responsibility for our health to someone else.
Superstition can work for or against a person's health. Belief that something will work often works. See placebos.
Can the mind cause or cure illness? What evidence do you have on the matter?
Most certainly! When we dwell on the negative, we create disharmony within, and that in turn creates disease.
Do you recommend Vitamins and nutritional supplements? Do you believe their benefits have been proven?
Yes, sometimes I do, when the right balance of nutrition and need cannot be found in food and diet. I believe the benefits of some supplements have been proven.
Every day there is a new product to stop aging. Is it solace that we are really buying?
No, it is fear of death, instead of the knowledge and confidence that we all grow old, and that we can do so with grace and dignity. Much of modern fear of aging stems from the tendency to stuff our elderly into facilities instead of respecting them and honoring them and keeping them in our family homes.
Obesity, insomnia, and depression, are epidemic. What does that say about our way of life? What must be changed at the social level?
Obesity; we have needs that are not met, so we comfort ourselves with food.
Insomnia; We live in a day of stimulants. We drink coffee, soft drinks, and take stimulants to keep ourselves awake and alert, but we fail to provide proper rest for our bodies and minds.
Depression; A lot of this comes from lack of exercise, lack of vitamin C, and poor lifestyle choices.
On a social level we need to exhibit more compassion, understanding, and support of our family and friends.
What is your opinion on the use of medical marijuana for terminal illnesses.
I support it 100%. Cannabis has many benefits, from easing the pain, nausea, and sleeplessness of terminal illness, to the treatment and even cure of brain tumors. Fear stops us from treating this valuable herb as it should, an important medical and spiritual tool.
The patient/doctor relationship is part of the success of treatment. What should it be like?
It should be equal, not a dependency of patient to doctor. The doctor should recognize that the patient is intelligent and able to make informed choices. Inform patients of their options and allow them to make their own decisions, even those that disagree with the doctor's choice for the patient.
Is it reasonable to treat a patient whose condition is hopeless, only for medical experimentation?
Only if the patient is fully informed and aware, and if that person has made the choice to be treated in that manner.
How do patient beliefs or superstitions effect recovery?
A great deal. Beliefs sometimes get us into trouble, making us sick in the first place. If that belief isn't changed, healing and recovery will be slow or will not happen at all.
What is the best way to give bad news to a patient?
Be straight with them. In a secure setting (ie; not in the hallway of a hospital) sit them down and explain in a compassionate manner. Stay with them, offering support instead of simply telling them and walking out.
Is the best preventive medicine teaching someone how to live?
What are the most frequent errors of slimming diets.
Restriction and lack of education.
Are too many unnecessary tests and x-rays performed in hospitals?
Would you change your profession for any another?
What subjects do you teach? What types of students do you have?
I teach classes on Herbalism, which include Wildcrafting responsibly, Medicine making, Choosing the right herb or formula to suit the individual's needs, Herbs for pets, Natural diets for pets, Managing Menopause naturally, Handcrafted Soap making, Making body care products, Plant Spirit Medicine and Herb walks.
I have all kinds of students, from the young to Seniors. Some are just passing through my area and stop to hear a plant talk at the local cafe, while others sign up for and take classes listed above. Every one of them finds something good to take away with them.
Can you provide a link to a site where we can see something about what you do or the center where you work?
My wedsite is www.grannysams.com
How have your past experiences prepared you for teaching? How did you become interested in education?
I think my grandparents first got me interested in herbalism. As a child I roamed their small farm, mingling with the animals and plants. I was alone with no other playmates so learned early on how to communicate with my animal and plant friends. That ability has never left me, and today I use it still.
Both my parents and one grandmother were teachers. I didn't think I wanted to teach, but as I grew older and became more involved in my herbal studies I became passionate about sharing that knowledge. I love it when a student, formal or informal, catches that passion and in turn learns to empower him or herself by taking charge of their own health decisions.
Who was your most influential teacher and why?
I think Susun Weed. While I disagree with some of her thoughts, her most powerful lesson has been that decisions about medicine and health care belong in the hands of the people, not the doctors, and most certainly not the insurance companies. Susun teaches that we all can make our own decisions, and our own medicine from the plants that grow around us. I try to pass this on to both students and clients. I am happy when a client no longer needs me. for that means that he or she has learned that power.
What is your educational philosophy?
To teach the student to be his or her own herbalist, and to think independently. I want them to know more than I do.
What is the most challenging aspect of teaching for you?
Breaking the barrier of need. People have been so conditioned to run to the doctor every time they get the sniffles it's sometimes difficult to teach them that they can and should take charge of their own health and make the necessary lifestyle, diet, and other changes in order to become a healthier and more self-reliant person. Once that barrier is down, they learn by leaps and bounds.
What kind of relationship do you have with your students?
It varies. Some try to become dependent, which to me only means they haven't yet gained the knowledge and confidence to take charge of themselves. I try very hard not to become a substitute. I try to be there for them, to teach and encourage. but not to make their decisions for them.
Some students blossom into incredible teachers themselves, and I watch as they in turn teach their families and others. Those are the ones who make me most proud.
Some learn what they need at the moment and don't come back for more. That's ok too.
What is the secret to instilling interest in knowledge?
No secret. That interest is either there or not. I do try to make my classes interesting, but if that seed is not there, it won't sprout.
How do you individualize your teaching? How do you handle the different ability levels of students in classes?
I like small classes. That way I can take time for each individual, to focus on their needs.
If you could create the ideal school, what would it be like?
A rural setting, with plenty of land in a virgin state, forests, creeks, dirt roads. Huge library of herbal and other books and periodicals. Airy comfortable classroom with immediate access to the outdoors. Large herb garden. Quarters for overnight students and apprentices, with both primitive and more modern amenities. A collection of animals, chickens, goats, dogs, and cats.
Little Switzerland, NC