Our College president and founder, Dorene Petersen, is one of the most influential and significant forces in natural medicine over the past 30 years. She has brought increased science and rigor, as well as greater formal accreditation, to the areas of herbal medicine education, aromatherapy training, and other areas of complementary alternative medicine (CAM).
In the earlier days of our College, when our institution’s headquarters were in New Zealand, Dorene initiated a momentous and singular project, which was both symbolic and transformative. She received a trade-development grant from the government of New Zealand to help develop essential oil production in that nation. She saw an opportunity to convert a number of the country’s tobacco farms into profitable facilities for cultivating essential oil plants! Dorene was successful in fulfilling the grand goal of this project!
What is interesting about this project, and the reason it is symbolic to the field of natural health and alternative medicine, is that Dorene turned a “sword” into a ploughshare. She turned a “spear into a pruning hook.” I will explain briefly, to clarify . . .
While this infamous phrase of “turning swords into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks” is found in the Bible in the book of Isaiah, this article is not meant to be a religious discussion in any way.
This phrase was first rendered in the Elizabethan-style English of the translators of King James VI of Scotland and England, and the concept thus became more well-known in English-speaking societies during the 1600s. The idea of turning something like a sword, which is destructive, parasitic and dangerous, into something positive and symbiotic (mutually beneficial), is actually found in numerous famous texts around the world including the Jewish Torah, the Muslim Quran, the Analects of Confucius, sacred Hindu texts, as well as in Buddhist doctrines. The concept is priceless, universal, and timeless.
A sword or a spear can symbolize anything in our life that is destructive, piercing, damaging, degrading, cancerous, malignant, and otherwise reduces our quality of life and health. A pruning hook, or ploughshare, symbolizes those things in our lives that nourish, heal, energize, benefit, promote holistic wellness, grow, fix, upgrade, cultivate, improve, and otherwise increase our overall quality of life and health.
In 2008, in a published letter in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), a member of the Saskatchewan Coalition for Tobacco Reduction re-iterated the words of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director General, who said that the tobacco industry is akin to parasites who steal blood and increase illness (Greaves, 2008). This author also felt strongly that certain wide-ranging and rampant epidemics would disappear if the parasitic industry of tobacco failed to endure (Greaves, 2008).
Tobacco can definitely be likened to a sword, spear, or parasite. It does indeed take, or suck, from societies and individuals. Tobacco enslaves people in strong addiction, takes their money, sucks away their health, and then provides nothing of value (benefit) in return. It leaves nations with billions of dollars in healthcare costs, and it leaves individuals with ravaging cancers and other cardiopulmonary diseases.
Now, contrast the “sword” of tobacco with the “ploughshare” of essential oils. These amazing substances heal, rejuvenate, invigorate, energize,, and strengthen individuals. Plants that provide essential oils are sustainably and renewably harvested in environmentally friendly ways. The volatile substances (essential oils) extracted from these plants provide medicinal and nutritional benefits to the humans that consume them. These essential oils are used around the world in therapeutic and clinical aromatherapy applications, and are also demonstrating amazing efficacy in preventing/treating certain types of cancers (we will discuss this in-depth in an upcoming article). They also have powerful antibiotic properties, and are successfully used in a vast array of antiseptic applications. Many other studies are confirming the beneficial uses of essential oils for a host of other physical and mental infirmities.
Just as Dorene beautifully set an example of turning a sword into a ploughshare, we can likewise apply this same principle to improve our overall health, as well as the health of the clients we serve. Holistic health and wellness is about every aspect of our lives; it concerns our whole being. It encompasses our day-to-day habits, our relationships, our eating, our commute to work, our efforts to heal and prevent disease, and even our spiritual/emotional well-being.
Are there spears and swords in your life that need to be turned into pruning hooks and ploughshares? Are your eating habits a sword? Do you consume unhealthy amounts of fast food, soda pop, high fructose corn syrup, and other destructive substances that are slowly acting like a spear to your body and your organs? Is your liver being slowly sliced up by the sword of abusing prescription pain pills or excessive alcohol consumption? What about your relationships with others? Does the sword of anger and road-rage consume you during your morning commute to work? Are you allowing stress to grow to unhealthy levels by failing to have a proper work/life balance?
Or, alternatively, do you prune your body with healthy fruits and vegetables? Do you use the ploughshare of herbs and essential oils to cultivate healthy biochemical reactions in your heart, brain, liver, and kidneys? Do you listen to the advice of your wellness coach to help you better deal with a difficult co-worker or family member? Do you apply principles of healthy eating and regular exercise?
And what about in our communities? Are there opportunities for you to transform something in your community, which was formerly a destructive institution, into something positive and productive? Are there “tobacco fields” in your corner of the world that can be turned into “essential oil farms?”
Let’s follow the leadership and example of our American College of Healthcare Sciences President, Dorene Petersen, and move forward with promoting natural health and wellness around the world!
Image: Essential oil bottles from the Apothecary Shoppe College Store. Image by American College of Healthcare Sciences.
Image: Herb market in France. Image by Dorene Petersen. Reproduced with permission.
Greaves, L. (2008). What’s Driving The Epidemic. Canadian Medical Association Journal . . . In response to the article: Frohlich, K. (2008). Is Tobacco Use a Disease? Canadian Medical Association Journal. 179(9), 880-882.
Online Resources About Swords, Ploughshares and The Religious Beliefs Cited In This Article:
The Analects of Confucius:
The Dalai Lama’s Panel Discussion About Turning Swords Into Ploughshares:
BBC Website on Judaism:
BBC Website on Islam:
BBC Website on Hinduism:
BBC Website on Buddhism:
Canadian Medical Association Journal:
Wikipedia on Swords To Ploughshares:
Other Major World Religious, presented by the BBC: