Kelp for Dogs

Marley and Me

Dogs are amazing animals from which we can learn how to tap into our intuition.  On my morning walk today with my dogs, Taj ran over to a patch of grass and started chomping.  He regularly does this and my usual response is to drag him away with the fear of him ingesting all the poisons typically sprayed on the local grass.  Today I had a new revelation.  I remember that grasses contain a high amount of minerals, chlorophyll, and other nutrients.  Similarly to why we take wheat grass shots, I realized that my dog must be craving something particular.  I considered the possibility that my dog might be lacking minerals and that I should find some alternative source for him to eat.  As things would have it, I just received a shipment of powdered kelp, intending to use it for my own healthy super smoothies.  It dawned on me that I could give kelp powder to my dogs for an added vitamin and mineral boost, not to mention the anti-radiation properties this has on all of us.

I found out more online at…

“Kelp is the most nutritious of all sea vegetables. It is rich in minerals and trace elements and has a nourishing and tonic effect on all of the body’s systems.  Kelp contains over 60 minerals and trace elements, 21 amino acids, simple and complex carbohydrates and several essential plant growth hormones.In particular, kelp is a rich natural source of iodine, making it an excellent supplement to support and maintain a strong glandular system, especially for the pituitary, adrenal and thyroid glands (RADIATION PROTECTION). With properly functioning glands, optimal metabolism is easier to achieve.  For many years, the Japanese and the Chinese have been eating kelp and other seaweeds and it is said that one contributing factor to the longevity of Japanese people is the frequent consumption of kelp and other seaweeds.  In view of its rich nutrients, recently many holistic vets are also promoting the beneficial effects of kelp for dogs.”

Taj – Photo by Todd Puchalski

Kelp for Dogs – Health Benefits

Kelp supplies a natural source of minerals to a dog’s body and minerals are essential in every aspect of a dog’s health. In particular, it has been found that supplementing a dog’s diet with kelp can bring about the following health benefits:

Balancing Glandular Activities – Just as in humans, the iodine content and high levels of other nutrient minerals and vitamins in kelp make it an essential herb for regulating and balancing glandular systems (hormones). In particular, dogs suffering from hypothyroidism can benefit from the iodine in kelp. One of the functions of iodine is the stimulation of the thyroid gland.

Healthy Skin and Coat – Dogs with skin irritation problems as a result of allergies, dogs with dry skin, or dogs who are suffering from alopecia (hair loss) can benefit from kelp. In a study, dogs who had been fed kelp daily for a period of six months had darker, thicker, and shinier coats. They also scratched less and their skin was not as dry.  The protein in kelp is highly bio-available, which allows dogs to efficiently assimilate its amino acids so they can speedily and effectively assist in tissue repair.

Flea Control – In the same study, it was found that kelp for dogs could help control fleas. Dogs were found to be less attractive to fleas and flies after three weeks of supplementation.

Weight Control – Dogs can have better maintenance of body weight thanks also to the iodine in the kelp. Iodine stimulates the thyroid gland that controls the dog’s metabolism. With better metabolism, dogs with weight problems can reduce their cholesterol levels and lose weight.

Better General Health – With better metabolism as a result of improved glandular activities, dogs given kelp supplements can enjoy better general health. This may be particularly important for older dogs whose metabolism may be poor and glandular and immune functions may be compromised.

Photo by Todd Puchalski

Kelp for Dogs – Safety

Not all seaweeds are the same. Avoid getting kelp or other seaweeds harvested along U.S. shorelines, especially the Pacific Coast, because such seaweeds might be contaminated by industrial pollution and radiation.  Norwegian or Scandinavian kelp is considered to be of the highest quality due to the environment in which the kelp grows. The Norwegian coast is where fresh arctic ocean water meets mineral-rich glacial freshwater run-off, which combine to create the optimal conditions for kelp to thrive.

The easiest way to supplement kelp is to get a natural kelp product in powdered form and follow the feeding and dosage instructions on the product label.…

Dr. Wendy Norman

Posted in Dogs, Nutrition, Public Health | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Radiation Protection

In light of our current crisis in Japan, I have agreed to post my information from Wellness Wednesday discussing how to protect yourself from ionizing isotopes (radiation).

Radiation occurs when unstable molecules release energy that penetrates our skin and internal organs. There are many different types of radiation including sunrays, x-rays, cosmic rays, CT scans, nuclear radiation.  Each of these affect your cells energetically to create a release of FREE RADICALS.

Iodine – 131 is rapidly absorbed by the thyroid, and leaves only as it decays radioactively, with a half-life of eight days.  It is known to accumulate in the thyroid gland, where it can cause cancer and other thyroid diseases.

Cesium – 137 is absorbed by muscles, where its half-life of 30 years means that it remains until it is excreted by the body. It takes between 10 and 100 days to excrete half of what has been consumed.  Cesium – 137 accumulates in the body and soft tissues, where it increases risk of cancer, according to EPA.

Plutonium – 238, 239, 240 is one of the most dangerous chemicals to the planet.  It is highly carcinogenic in small doses and very difficult to detect.  With a half-life ranging from 88 years for isotope 238, 24,100 years for isotope 239, and 6,500 years for isotope 240, plutonium radiation is extremely damaging.  Once ingested into the body the particles bounce around like ping pong balls gaining momentum with every hit on an organ.  It is one of the most carcinogenic chemicals on the planet.

According to TEPCO plutonium has been found in several soil sites around the Fukushima power plant.  Link…

A danger to our seas?

As of April 10th 2011 TEPCO announced that 50,000 gallons of highly radioactive water is being flushed into the Pacific Ocean each and every day.  “Increased radioactivity in the marine environment occurred by aerial deposition and by discharges and outflow of contaminated water with a high radioactivity level.” (International Atomic Energy Agency – May 3rd 2011).  Link...

I still hear reports that there is nothing to worry about, but where do you think all this radioactive material goes?  Just because it’s invisible doesn’t mean we are safe.

What about our food?

There have already been foods tested around the world found to have radioactive contamination.  A few to note include:

  • Raw Milk
  • Milk products
  • Vegetables – spinach
  • Fruits
  • Fish

Milk tested April 4th in Hilo, Hawaii measured in at 18 pCi/l for radioactive iodine, a level six times the EPA maximum safety threshold of 3.0pCi/I and 19 pCi/l for Cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30.  Why do we test raw milk?  When cows’ milk starts testing positive for high levels of radioactive elements radioactive contamination of the entire food supply has occurred. 

April 7, 2011 CRIIRAD, a French research body on radioactivity, announced, “the risks associated with iodine-131 contamination in Europe are no longer “negligible.”

They advise pregnant women and infants against “risky behavior,” such as consuming fresh milk or vegetables with large leaves.

What can you do?

Luckily, there are foods that can help rid the toxic elements of radiation from your body.

Spirulina – shown to improve damaged immune system in response to radiation (Chernobyl) because it is high in GLA (Gamma-Linoleic Acid)

Chlorella/Chlorophyl – detoxifies the body of heavy metals and radioactive material.  Studied in Japan after Hiroshima in 1945.

If you can’t tolerate then use spirulina, blue-green algae, or phytoplankton

Kelp – iodine rich food to protect the thyroid gland.  Absorbs and eliminates radioactive elements and heavy metal contaminants from our bodiesCalcium Bentonite Clay is a negatively charged ion that pulls positively charged radioactive material from the body.  It adsorbs any kind of radiation and is recommended as part of a healthy diet.


  • Rosemary
  • Reishi mushroom
  • Shiitake mushroom
  • Aloe Vera
  • Black walnuts
  • Bananas
  • Hempseeds
  • Coconut oil
  • Goji Berry
  • Acai
  • Zeolite

The best defense begins with diet and supplements. When you eat radioactive food, the threat to your health increases exponentially. That’s because internal radiation is far more deadly to your body than external radiation.  So, you have to eat good foods that will assist in detoxifying the radioactive foods.

Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C.


  1. David Wolfe – Superfoods

Posted in Public Health | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections of a Healer – Part 1

Africa is a spiritually powerful place to be, yet amazingly simple. The struggles for food and water are very real. The lack of basic medical care is overwhelming and the absence of support and necessary resources can be defeating if you let it be. Zimbabwe has an extensive history as this once thriving community is now devastated by greed and political corruption. Inevitably, we have seen the worst economic meltdown in our present day history. Zimbabwean money is now a thing of the past as 100 trillion dollar notes hold less value than a loaf of bread. As a result, the US dollar was adopted as local currency in 2009.

I began working in Zimbabwe in the fall of 2008 with no experience in bush medicine or with working in another country. I am a chiropractor and holistic healer by trade and work in the urban area of Orange County, California. Most of my patients suffer from the effects of a Westernized society, media driven and chemically toxic. Dietary hype, genetically modified foods, and excessively high levels of stress detach us from the essence of human life. This is a world of excess and access to everything imaginable, a world where want becomes a greater force than need. Scientifically based medicine is mainstream and highly acceptable route for curing ailments, yet we still suffer as one of the unhealthiest countries on the planet. Reflecting on the work we have done in Africa, I am able to document the rebirth of hope and illustrate a comparison between seeming unrelated cultures.

An innate spiritual strength that ties each of us together unfolds and I see how affected we are by one another.  As my story continues down this unexpected path, a new light and a new hope for our future will be found. Times are changing and we are about to embark on a powerful journey. In 2008 I walked into a very dismal time in Zimbabwe history. People were starving, the unemployment rate was nearing 90%, and the Zimbabwe dollar value dropped so drastically that we witnessed the worst inflation rate in the history of the world. The visions of people truly suffering are burned into my mind as a humbling reminder. Africa is not totally unique from other developing countries in their hardships. Any world traveler will tell you hundreds of similar stories, but the lessons we learn from these hardships are life changing.


I will never forget my first patient in 2008, an embodiment of the effects of dehydration. Lying on the floor of a village home was a man in his mid 20’s clearly hours away from death. I had no idea what to expect walking into my first clinic day, but this was about as bad as it gets. I immediately realized that there was no one to call on, no one to come to the rescue, and no one who knew the first thing to do with a person this sick. Thoughts of desperation surfaced as I wondered, “Am I actually capable of helping this man?”At this moment it was as if two worlds collided, a pinnacle in time where one realizes that greater forces are at work. If we just have the courage to step out of the way, miracles can happen. Several months prior to my arrival in Zimbabwe, I began studying the ways of medical humanitarian work. In many cases, I realized that few organizations seemed to be utilizing natural medicines as their main method of treatment. Most organization use Westernized ideas and focus very little on nutrition and vitamin supplementation. I am disappointed to find our Westernized stigma on alternative medicine snuffs out traditional methods even in the most remote areas. Our beliefs grow like a cancer, feed by a greed for money and success. It came as no surprise that I would likely have to invent a new wheel for alternative medical missionary work.

I hoped to find someone with fresh ideas, someone to with a road map that I could refer too. I quickly realized that chiropractors and alternative health workers are not on any list of qualified medical personnel able to apply for current medical missionary programs. We are hardly even recognized in here in the US as credentialed and able practitioners despite the intense training regarding health and disease offered in chiropractic school. It seems that I belong to a select group of healers that believe the body is an extraordinary being, capable of healing without the use of drugs or man-made chemicals. However, there is little money in natural health and big business won’t settle for that.

As I continued my search and began looking at large scale triage care and military methods for treating soldiers, knowing that they often have to overcome the most challenging conditions with little resources, I found this simple information that changed my life forever. Many healthcare workers, nurses and doctors around the world treat people with a simple re-hydration mixture of salt, sugar, and water in specific ratios. As I briefed myself of what I may encounter in Zimbabwe, I came across the instructions of the Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) and immediately knew this was important. People living in poverty lack two basic tools for survival and growth, education and resources. The issue of dehydration is a clear example. Dying from dehydration is a cruel and agonizing death and extremely preventable. Fact: Diarrhea directly kills 1.8 million children in developing countries each year, and contributes to the death of up to 15 million people. (UNICEF) On this day, our patient lived. A family has a father and leader because of a simple, yet profound pearl of knowledge. The proof that we really are given the tools we need at just the right moment couldn’t have been clearer. My first day healing in Africa ended with a miracle, the bar is now set. Initiation by fire and my work in the field officially begins…

Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C.

Posted in Nutrition, Public Health, Zimbabwe | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Save the Brain & Save the Food! UPDATED

These days we are bombarded with the fast paced world of electronics and the “quicker is better” mentality.  Our dependency on items such as cell phones and microwaves has not only changed the way we function each day, but has also begun to change the way we think.  EMF radiation, or Electro Magnetic Frequency, is a measure of radiation emitted from devices such as cell phones, hairdryers, microwaves and other small electronics.   It’s hard to say weather this increase in radiation is ACTUALLY harmful, but one has to wonder of the effects.  It has been theorized that since the advent of cell phones, the incidence of brain cancer has increased.  The American Cancer Society states, “The best established environmental risk factor for brain tumors is radiation exposure, most commonly from some type of radiation therapy,” however, no conclusive data has been collected.

Breaking News 5/31/11

CNN health news and the World Health Organization have officially stated that there is a potential carcinogenic effect when using cell phones.  The type of radiation we get from cell phones is similar to that

Cell phones heat up the brain with radiation

of a microwave oven, which essentially destroys tissue within 1 inch.  Every second you are chatting on the cell phone, you are cooking your brain.  A team of 31 scientists agree that CELL PHONES CAN (and likely will) CAUSE CANCER!  The problem is that we won’t see the effects for 10 years or more, by then it will be too late for those avid cell phone users.  This becomes a question of whether the benefit of technology is actually worth the risk.

If cell phones can potentially cause brain cancer, what might happen to our food if microwaved?  High levels of radiation can be effective for quickly heating food, but what people don’t know is that this same radiation process actually damages the cells of the food leaving them less than nutritious.  Microwave ovens were developed by the Nazis for use in their mobile support operations and later transferred to the United States War Department for scientific investigation. The Soviet Union also obtained several of these microwave ovens and has since been outlawed based on the health and environmental hazards.

So what happens to food when we cook food in a microwave oven?

An article published by the Atlantis Rising Educational Center in Portland, Oregon states these findings based on the use of a microwave oven:

  • Microwaving prepared meats sufficiently to insure sanitary ingestion caused formation of d-Nitrosodiethanolamines, a well-known carcinogen.
  • Microwaving milk and cereal grains converted certain of their amino acids into carcinogens.
  • Thawing frozen fruits converted their glucoside- and galactyoside-containing fractions into carcinogenic substances.
  • Extremely short exposure of raw, cooked or frozen vegetables converted their plant alkaloids into carcinogens.
  • Carcinogenic free radicals were formed in microwaved plants, especially root vegetables.


Microwaves have been around for many years and deliver us a fast and easy way to heat or cook food.  But are the dangers worth convenience?  If we really go off the theory that nature knows best, I don’t see where microwaves have a place.  Eating food should be about providing nutrients to our body, not for the purpose of convenience.  Besides, how many actually put plastic Tupperware filled with last night’s leftovers into the microwave for lunch?  Plastic, especially when heated, leaches carcinogens and toxins right into your food!  Yuck.  This fact also goes for plastic baby bottles, so moms don’t forget that what you feed your child may be laced with toxic cancer causing chemicals.

Try using glass Tupperware or bottles instead and, when needed, re-heat your food on the stove.  If convenience is your problem… opt for food that requires no heating, like raw organic fruits and veggies or even a sandwich.  As for the cell phones, don’t wear them on your body and NEVER use a blue tooth.  Multi-polar magnets can be worn to help unscramble your energy as we are exposed to environmental EMF radiation.  They are cheep and can be warn in your pocket.

We get enough radiation as it is so do things now to save your food and save your brain from carnage.

Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C.

Posted in Nutrition, Public Health, The Planet | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Maca -The Andes Aphrodisiac


Maca is a member of the cruciferous family of plant that includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips and radishes.  It grows in the high Andes Mountains of Peru making it the highest altitude crop on Earth.  Maca is considered a superfood that has been harvested for centuries.  Incan warriors even took maca before battle to make them stronger and increase stamina.  It acts as an “adaptogenic” food, giving you energy with out blasting your nervous system with caffeine or chemical stimulants.

Maca has a reputation of being a powerful libido-enhancing superfood.  According to research, maca increases oxygen in the blood and neurotransmitter production to support the endocrine system, the adrenals, and the thyroid gland.   It serves as a great source of hormone precursors giving it a reputation as a natural aphrodisiac.  Women with menstrual irregularities have benefited greatly from maca as well as women suffering from hot flashes and mood swings associated with perimenopause and menopause.  Men also benefit as it restores them to a healthy, functional status in which they experience a more active libido.

Maca is a warming food that can be consumed for long periods of time.  It is usually purchased as dried, raw, organic powder.  You can use it in smoothies, teas, coffee, or any type of natural beverage.  Many people combine it with raw cacao as the two work extremely well together.  If you are new to maca, start by using 1 tsp at a time to notice the effects in mental clarity and energy.  You can find many maca containing products in the health food stores, but if you want to get the full physiological effect, I recommend adding measured doses of pure maca powder to your diet daily.

Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C.



Posted in Nutrition, The Planet | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hugging Trees

No Impact – consuming less paper

Have you hugged a tree today?

We are all in the mist of a shift in consumerism where saving the environment is increasingly more urgent.  Now, I’m no expert on sustainability, but I am aware enough to realize the damage our culture creates on the plant is unnecessary and extreme. Have you ever really examined the amount of trash produced from one household in a week, not to mention the amount of paper we use daily?  We would be foolish to think that we are doing the right thing and don’t have to change our ways of consumption.

Think about this, when you throw something away where does it go?  As a kid, I was convinced that once I threw something away it was gone forever.  It seemed that there was some place where all trash was destroyed and our planet was clean again.  What we don’t realize is that trash ends up in landfills both on and off land with 36% of our garbage in landfills in the form of paper products.  Some people even claim that it’s environmentally friendly to consume as long as we recycle, but I beg to differ.  Recycling is a wonderful way to reuse some of our trash, but it is not a complete solution to sustain life on our planet. Paper making is one of the leading causes for environmental pollution no matter if we use recycled material or not.

The pulp manufacturing process is the major source of environmental concern for this industry. For example, a bleached kraft pulp mill requires 4,000-12,000 gallons of water and 14-20 million Btu of energy per ton of pulp, of which roughly 8-10 million Btu typically are derived from biomass- derived fuel from the pulping process (Pulp and Paper, 2001). Across all facilities in SIC 26, the pulp, paper, and allied products industry is the largest consumer of process water and the third largest consumer of energy (behind the chemicals and metals industries) (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2000 and U.S. Department of Energy, 2000). The high use of water and energy, as well as the chemical inputs described in Section III, lead to a variety of environmental concerns.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Why is it so important to recycle?  By recycling paper and other materials that would otherwise end up in landfills we can prevent methane gas emissions from being release into our air. We also help to preserve the natural resources we all rely on for survival on our planet. The Earth was once covered by 60% forest and now only 30%.  Now, I won’t claim that all deforestation is damaging nor can I say that growth and development is what has lead us into our current crisis, but what I can say, is that we need to re-establish BALANCE.


While recycling is a good step in conscious consumerism, we must not forget the impact of simply consuming less.  Pay attention to how much paper you come in contact with each day and see where you can make a change.

Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C.

Posted in Public Health, The Planet, Zimbabwe | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

My Toxic World

Sometimes I wish I never learned so much about the temple of the Body or strive to understand why environmental toxins are so hazardous to our health.  It seems that every time I learn something new, I find myself more angry and irritated with the feeling that I can’t do anything about such a devastating situation.  I don’t know about you, but I am sickened.  As I cruse the isles of our local supermarket I find it more difficult to buy anything in a package or processed.  I can’t even look at milk products without seeing images of blood and pus in my cheese.  It is becoming more difficult to tolerate and I fear the difficult road of enlightenment.  A veil has been lifted and I see fake for fake.  The color of change is upon us.

I see fake food, fake drinks, fake people, fake clothes…even fake water.  Nothing seems to resemble nature at all.  From my food to cleaning supplies, I live in a toxic world.  Is this a bad dream of plastic monsters and artificially flavored devil treats that burn my eyes with their false sense of fulfillment?   The carelessness of big corporations is getting to me and very few seem to truly understand.  Pharmaceutical companies relentlessly try to convince us that we are sick all while offering a candied path happiness through chemicals poisons.  We can’t escape it and these facts echo at a defining pitch.

The United States ranks 37th in Health Care, yet we spend more money  to be healthy than anyone else on the planet.  On average, 45% of Americans are on at least 1 prescription medication daily as of 2006 and and in 2004 1.6 million American teens and children were prescribed at least 2 psychiatric drugs in combination, 300,000 being under the age of 10.  I can’t help to ask myself where we went wrong.  Are we brainwashed or just misinformed?

I urge you to help make a change in this battle for our lives.  We need a mass movement and we need it now.  Join me in helping revolutionize our planet by encouraging others pay attention and learn about health.  How long are we going to tolerating this mass poisoning???  Are we really going to be LAB RATS?

GO ORGANIC!  This means with your food as well as with your clothes, cleaning supplies, dog food, etc…  Each day you have a choice to make a difference.  Get off those drugs and get into nature.  TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOU!  There are plenty of doctors out there that can help you make the shift in your health and I encourage you to stop the insanity of the “pill”.  The shift is coming, so don’t miss the boat.

Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C.

Posted in Nutrition, Public Health | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

They Might Be Giants

Have you ever wondered why so many more Americans suffer with debilitating illness such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid dysfunction, etc…? Aren’t we on the leading edge of scientific research and the most able to buy anything our heart desires, just as we want it? So, why are SO many Americans suffering? 

The answers are vast and scary, really, but we must try to understand this BIG PICTURE because our planet is becoming very sick. Companies like Monsanto, Coca Cola, and Exxon Mobil are taking over or resources and using our need for basic necessities as capital gain and profitability. Stores like Wal-Mart are wiping out the nature of small business and the “Land of Opportunity” is coming at a very heavy price. The United States alone lays claim on more global giants than any country in the world. We are arguably the most influential culture regarding commercialism and capitalism as we dominate the global marketplace. Shouldn’t we have everything we need to be healthy?

You may be surprised that answers to our failing health may lie within the nature of our food…

Despite all the advancements and technological break thorough we have experienced, Americans are slowly starving. Our food and land is becoming contaminated, our water is filled with chemicals, and our ability to care for ourselves properly is stolen away by the GIANTS. Farmers are being sued for patent breaches on seeds, chickens are going insane inside commercial chicken coops, and cows are being fed indigestible corn products and growth hormones, which ultimately end up in our bodies. Our waters are saturated with pharmaceuticals and chemicals from agricultural runoff, insects are becoming extinct because of genetically modified food, and our children’s children run the risk becoming infertile because of genetic alterations occurring in our bodies as we ingest these common poisons.

My question is, why are we letting this happen to humanity?

Some think we are simply brainwashed into believing our food, although toxic and modified, is actually healthy for us. Another reason, toxic food is cheep and toxic food is quick. Americans believe that convenience is the key to success and the only way we can do everything we are “supposed” to do, we must have it in 30 minutes or less. Giant companies have jumped on this market and provided us with everything we need tightly packaged in non-biodegradable material and laced with chemical preservatives. TV dinners alone can cause cancer through the release of dioxins from the plastic containers through the microwaving (AKA radiating) process. Dioxins have been linked to birth defects, cancers, diabetes, … you name it, and yet we still find isles of frozen TV dinners in every supermarket in America. Why? Because we buy it and we fear change.

So, what can you do?

1. Stop buying processed foods and stick to fresh, organic, grass-fed, free range, and non-GMO items. Support local organic farmers and push out those GIANTS by pure demand.

2. Become educated. Ignorance is not bliss and the more you know, the more you can teach your friends and loved ones.

3. Help each other out. If you have a great idea then share it. Doing things together has proven to be the most effective way to create change.

If you would like to find out more information on these topics, visit Body Electric Today and sign up for my newsletter.  You will receive up to date information and an invitation to our Wellness Wednesdays where learning becomes interactive.

Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C.

Posted in Nutrition, Public Health | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Wellness Center, Zimbabwe


The Jabulani Wellness Center was constructed in August 2009.  Before this structure was built the villagers had no place to store medicines and materials without the threat of theft.  We held clinics outside, which left me suffering with a painful sunburn, and we carried our containers of supplements and medical supplies a considerable distance to the Jabulani Preschool each day as we served many sick villagers.  But this year, we had a great victory.  The initiation of our new Wellness Center and Wellness Clinics began on July 12th and we hope to develop it into a full support center for the surrounding villagers.  We are off to a great start.

Over the past 3 years I have been working to find a way to assist people who are living in poverty with basic needs of obtaining proper nutrition and providing first line medical assistance.  Many people living in the rural areas of Africa suffer from malnutrition, lack of proper sanitation, and an absence of educational exposure to proper health practices.  Without these resources, many succumb to the effects of completely preventable ailments and suffer unnecessarily.  Tooth decay runs ramped in rural areas signifying the extreme lack of adequate nutrition.  Common infections go mismanaged and can escalate into a life threatening situation.  HIV, TB, malaria, asthma, and epilepsy are all part of the running list of common ailments.  Many also complain of simply being tired and have constant headaches.

Dr. Wendy treating an entire family with mother and four kids. Rounding out the 4th day of the wellness center.

When a person struggles everyday and consumes a diet with a lacking in nutritional quality, they quickly find that stomach pain increases, appetite decreases, teeth decay and fall out, the eyes become yellowed and painful, and headaches become all too common.  Without proper food, these villagers literally begin to die slowly and often painfully.  You can see it in the faces.

HIV has spread at an alarming rate in Africa, often leaving children orphaned at a very young age.  Cultural beliefs and traditional practices have contributed too much of the spread of this deadly disease.  One belief, for example, is that sleeping with a virgin will cure a man of HIV.  Many traditional doctors and healers in Africa believed that sickness and ailments were a type punishment from either a spiritual realm or from a curse that someone put on you.  They would instruct the practices of rituals or cures based from a spiritual point of view rather than from a biological perspective.  With the proper knowledge regarding disease, the communities begin to understand how to properly care and protect.  In light of this need, we successfully hosted our first HIV awareness class on July 12th, 2010 and plan to follow up with a theatrical puppet performance on July 22nd, 2010.  Stay tuned for more on this…

The 2010 Wellness Clinic days were a great success.  I see that people are responding to the care from previous years and continue taking their nutritional supplements as directed.  It was a considerable improvement from last year’s complaints and it brings me such joy to know less people are suffering.  I know that our efforts are successful and can only hope that other people take the time to reach out to their community.  It does make a difference; we just have to have the courage to try.

Sometimes patients are so weak that they arrive in donkey carts and often travel miles to arrive at the Wellness Center 

Cheers from Zimbabwe,

Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C.

Photos by Todd Puchalski

Posted in Zimbabwe | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Monde Village and Mpisi, a Traditional Medicinal Herbalist 2010/07/10

Monde Village and Mpisi, a Traditional Medicinal Herbalist

We had an opportunity to visit a traditional healer and herbalist named Mpisi Ndlovu at his homestead in the Monde Village. This village is a neighboring village to Jabulani, only 8 kilometers away. The purpose of our visit was to compare some aspects of a neighboring village and to see how they handled some of their challenges in agriculture, and healing common illnesses as they go hand-in-hand by visiting Mpisi. Like many Villages, Monde Village has mixed tribes people, but is known as an Ndebele Village.

Mpisi along with our friend and guide Fletcher taught us and showed us a lot about the history, architecture, Art and agriculture of the Ndebele. Seemingly, we came for specific answers, and instead found a lot more and how linked it all was.

Tribal history

The Ndebele tribe is an extension of the Zulu Peoples who lived in Southern Africa.  During the later 1800’s, many Zulu moved North from what is currently South Africa due to political unrest and differing needs of some tribesman. European imperialism was a factor to this migration, but it is said it would have happened regardless of the slow invasion of white colonists. Being a Military Tribe at that time, this specific group of nomadic warriors costumed themselves with Long Shields for defenses against other warring Zulus and other tribes along their migration and new settlement in the bush lands. This lead to the name “Ndebele,” meaning “men with long shields” given by others. It is a Zulu word, and the Ndebele language is actually Zulu. A century later, we may be aware of the long decorated and often colorful shields seen in photographs and fashioned into many types of Art and decor representing some African cultures. The Ndebele are a very Artistic community, and an aesthetic and care for inspiration can be seen in their homesteads, weapons, tools and in all areas of creation in daily life.

A typical home of the Ndebele Tribe. Notice the bright colors and layering in thached roofs.

A traditional village will consist of more than 100 “homesteads” and are under the control of a Chief, Sub-Chief, and many Headmen.  The Chief is born and inherits his rights to rule. A Headman and sub-Chief will be elected into that position for several reasons.  The more land, livestock and wives a headman has, the more likely he is to be elected as he will be more respected and has the ability to keep everyone at peace and getting along.  In Zimbabwe, the villagers bank their money in livestock.  So, if one has a lot of cows, it is assumed that they will look after the community and be a reliable sub custodian of cultural traditions and overall well being in the community.  Today, it is possible for a woman to become a headman or even a chief if no male heir is able. Currently, there are 2 known women chiefs in Zimbabwe. This also changes the rules as it shifts many traditions and social structures that have appropriately guided these tribes for centuries. The consequences are yet to be determined but are under study by some.

Men pay a dowry of 10 or more large livestock in order to marry a wife of another village as practiced.  This can be paid in stages, several before they marry and the balance before they bare children. If the man cannot pay the dowry, baring children is shunned, and the man is disrespected. Families are seen as a “breeding unit,” where having children is not only expected, but a vital requirement for a healthy family and community.  Children will be cared for and raised working and learning the family trades. When the parents are too old to produce for themselves, the children care for the parents until death. There will be several generations living closely together at all times. They are codependent throughout all of life. Yet, this is changing due to Western influence and has disrupted the natural flow of their community and family units. Many challenges they face are directly linked to these changes.

Male children will carry on the family name which is called a totem name.  The word “totem” means animal name and it is a symbol and connection of the serious importance in uniting harmoniously with nature.   As a traditional belief, the totem name has a close kinship and also restricts a villager from ever eating that animal due to the cannibalistic nature of eating your own kind.  Villagers are advised not to marry within their own tribe.  Polygamy is not practiced as often today as in history, but is still accepted, embraced and practiced among the villagers. Interestingly, the man is not empowered of obtaining his 2nd wife.  The 1st wife initiates the 2nd marriage to assist with the chores at the homestead and is usually a friend of the 1st wife.  Obtaining more wives is seen as a status symbol among the village as it reflects a man’s ability to keep peace among several women.  No matter how many wives become a part of the family, the 1st wife is always in charge.


A brightly colored Ndebele silo used to store corn and crops after harvesting.

There are 3 prominent tribes currently residing in Zimbabwe: Ndebele, Shona, and Nambia.  You can visibly see the difference in the architecture of the huts and identify which tribe resides at the homestead. Often today, the villages become of mixed tribes, and inter tribal marriages occur bringing diversity to the individual homesteads. Each may have several structures baring the style, decoration and function of all the tribes represented in a family homestead.

Each building, or hut, consist of much of the same in materials and function, yet have clearly visible differences. The flat thatched roofs are from the Nambia tribe while the ridged thatching comes from the Ndebele tribe indicating a more aesthetic approach.  Also, customary of the Ndebele tribe, bright colors are painted on the walls as well as carvings and other details found on posts and in the dung bricks used for construction.

One of the most obvious differences singling out the Ndebele huts from others is that they design them in a round parameter, and for a very interesting reason. Various poisonous snakes, including the feared Cobra and Mamba, are dense in the bush. The round design allows the snakes to enter and follow the wall around back to the single door to exit. If the huts are square, the snakes find corners to hide and are hard to remove, often killing family members before exiting. Creatively living in harmony with nature is the way of life and human survival in Africa, as well as most all the world.

Dr. Wendy and Mpisi, both holistic healers of our time, comparing notes of the herb “Devil’s Claw.”

The peoples of Southern Africa respect the wild they live with. Killing animals or insects for sport or fear is unacceptable by traditional tribesman, like Mpisi. All of life has its purpose and in regards to herbal and natural medicines, which had been more than sufficient until Western Imperialism, must be readily available and is vital. Mpisi uses everything from Wasp larva, fire smoke soot, to oils in the roots of several plants to heal things from Cobra bites, burns, and stomach pains successfully. He has a solid reputation and has performed what some call miracles.

It should be known that in Africa there is a large confusion in medicinal practice as Western Medicine, designed for emergencies, has challenged and placed some doubt and disbelief of the African’s traditional healers. Today in Africa, there is argument and a common “lumping” of the many differing natural healers as Witch Doctors. Witch Doctors are the users of black magic and voodoo found in many stories of early exploration, but most Herbalists and traditional healers use natural and holistic means that now have scientific backing. However, people are getting sick and not seeking the help of traditional natural healers available to them in the villages for fear of the stigma placed on them from the Witch Doctor perspective. Therefore, with the Western alternative commonly unavailable to them, they choose to shun their own healers for fear of voodoo and slowly perish unnecessarily.

Natural and holistic healing has existed since the dawn of time effectively, yet lost in recent decades it has again become a stronger and more commonly accepted way of healing in Western civilizations like the U.S., and is gaining momentum and respect worldwide. Dr. Wendy Norman, of NAP Africa, successfully uses these methods herself as does many of her colleagues in California and elsewhere.

Wasp nests are used for their medicinal properties. They are considered a symbol of prosperity and should never be disturbed.

Visiting the homestead of Mpisi was a surprising privilege and an educational experience.  He began by informing us that the word “Zimbabwe” means house of many stones, and the floor of the homes are made from cow dung and clay.  Many newer homes, those less than 20 years, may still have sand floors due to lack of resource and/or trained skill of later or missing generations. The homes of Mpisi and his family are ideal and as he said “exemplary” of traditional Ndebele style and function. Very artistic in every detail and I must admit, impressive and comfortable. Complete with corn and grain silos, homestead gardens, kitchen and life center, Chicken run, and Mpisi and his son Khulekani’s Art studio.

Mpisi is a healthy, happy and energetic older man, and krawlhead of his area. He volunteers for the Red Cross of Zimbabwe amongst many other selfless acts to help his society at large. In our discussions with this sly elder, he taught us a few basics we found incredibly interesting. For example, if there are bees in your home, it is a sign of prosperity and they should not be harmed or forced out. The roofs of their homes hold many of the treasures he uses in healings, including the bee and wasp nests easily seen with small mud packs along the stick beams, under the thatching. Likewise, the kitchen hut has soot caked on and hanging from the ceiling. Often viewed as a place of birth, sickness and even death, this kitchen soot is saved then harvested to cure stomach pains and quickly heal open wounds. Mpisi uses long standing traditional herbs and practices.

He is quick to state he is uneducated (formally) in a university, but he had followed the healers before like his grandfather and learned through his lifetime. He now accepts apprentices to come live and work with him. He wants to teach and share his ancient knowledge with the world before his time comes. He has several natural healers come to study with him from places in the UK, Australia and the U.S. for months at a time. We have formally been invited to come study and document with him. Hopefully this will be a reality in the nearer future, but obviously another journey back.

Words of the day: Ndebele (Zulu) Language

Mpisi – Hyena (Birth Name)

Ndlovu – Elephant (Family Totem Name)

Zimbabwe – House of many stones

Ndebele – Men with long shields

Posted in Public Health, Zimbabwe | Tagged , | Leave a comment