A Paen To Penicillin: An Antibiotics User Guide from an Acupuncturista

Art is a still from 'Magical Contamination' by Antoine Bridier-Nahmias, an artistic documentation of mould and its diverse colors and textures captured in petri dishes.

Art is a still from 'Magical Contamination' by Antoine Bridier-Nahmias, an artistic documentation of mould and its diverse colors and textures captured in petri dishes.

It feels dirty and debaucherous publicly admitting that as a holistic health practitioner, I took the devil’s juice, I sipped the nectar of the underworld, I drew a pentagram in the crossroads and traded my corporeal soul and $25 dollars at CVS with Old Bones Jones for a chance at beating tonsillitis and decimating my microbiome.

I hadn’t needed antibiotics for years, but when I returned from an international flight late last year with a lymph node swollen to the size of golfball and a fever of 102, I did not have the luxury of treating this diligently on my own in a time frame that worked with my bonkers schedule. I needed to jump back into the saddle pronto because I have a lot of people that depend on me, as do you, likely. We are mothers and creators and radicals and care takers and tenders. There is no rest for the wicked.

One of the most frequently asked questions in my practice is “should I go on antibiotics?” While the answer is highly individualized, and most of us acupuncturists have a slew of herbal warriors with potency + panache to kick most pathogens to the curb, herbs are not always the most elegant solution. I take the time with each of my patients to talk about their options and how to gracefully navigate each choice. After all the cards are all on the table, I let them decide, shame free and without remorse. Because that is how medicine is practiced in a feminist model of choice and autonomy. En masse, there are steps you can take to make either choice empowering, and walk away from the whole experience feeling lusty, potent, and virile.

Step one is consider waiting. If you are not in any clear and present danger, and you are under the tutelage of an esteemed herbalist or functional doc, this is a solid approach. As my patients often remind me, beating your first infection with herbs + food is an initiation. You learn that everything you were ever taught about your body is wrong, that you are filled with adamantine strength and protean prowess if given the right tools and conditions. This approach forces you to be tender, scale back, and feel what it's like to nurture yourself back to life. You might have to de-escalate your schedule. Phew! What a relief! Or maybe your worst nightmare. But once you succeed in your pursuit of the plague, you have tools in your back pocket for any time that ol’ pestilence comes a’knocking at your door.

Sometimes you take the herbs and do the sleep and kick the stress, and you STILL get sicker. Step two is don’t fear the reaper. Those of us that have eschewed a life of Big Pharma get VERY riled up at the thought of taking antibiotics. Is it a betrayal of our values? Is it lazy, irresponsible, avoidant? AM I UNDOING 10 YEARS OF SEEDING MY GUT WITH KOMBUCHA, ARTISANAL SAUERKRAUT, AND AFFIRMATIONS THAT I RADIATE HEALTH FROM THE INSIDE OUT? Taking pharmaceuticals is NOT giving up your power and conceding to the military-industrial complex. You are not a shill of big pharma, you are not a horsewoman of the apocalypse, you are not complicit in the mass destruction of all beneficial microbial life, and, most importantly, you are not a butterfly. You are an almighty warrior priestess whose microbiome is an iron-clad vault of perpetual poetry in motion. Your microbiome is constantly evolving, and if you are not using antibiotics on the regular it will adapt. The number one factor that determines what microbes live in your gut (and which ones die off) is your daily diet. Make a point to eat a low sugar diet free of unprocessed foods and seed your gut with prebiotics from fibrous greens. Drink a little bone broth, why dontcha! And of course take probiotics along with your meds (albeit at least two hours apart from them), and keep taking probiotics for a minimum of 6 months (though truly we should be taking them all the time). I like two weeks of a very herculean CFU probie like Designs For Health ProbioMed 250, followed by my standard probiotic. If you are prone to yeast infections, you might want to do probiotic suppositories while you are downing your antibiotics. If you are concerned about the impact of antibiotics on your liver, you can take Antronex from Standard Process at 1 3xday during your course, continuing for a few weeks after. It also helps manage the dreaded ‘die-off effect’ that can happen with antibiotics like Amoxicillin.

Step three is don’t shame yourself for not being strong enough to fight the infection by non-pharmaceutical means. Shame is the enemy of health! It’s a tool of the oppressors! Shame keeps us trapped and small and holds us back from evolving and growing. I will never shame you! You did what you had to do. We are all just trying to survive. I love you.

Botanarchy Interviewed on the De Lune Journal

Botanarchy De Lune

“Radical feminist healthcare is oriented towards freeing us from a reliance upon medicines + institutions that are exploitive of natural resources and the body en masse. Radical feminist healthcare cultivates and values receptivity, gentleness, and subtlety, refusing to measure health by our ability to work harder, work longer, make more money, increase our sexual potency, feel better with less sleep, compete with each other, and push beyond our means and capacity.”

Chatting with the women of Botanarchy’s favorite menstrual advocacy brand De Lune about autonomy, inner authority, Taoism, and the tenants of radical feminist healthcare today on the De Lune Journal. De Lune is a clinic favorite (their PMS Chocolates get more fondles on my apothecary shelves than any other product up there, and rightfully so!), and I couldn’t be more thrilled to commune with them over our shared interest in menstrual health + compassionate medicine. Check the interview out here!

The Botanarchy Manifesta

Botanarchy

T H E  B O T A N A R C H Y   M A N I F E S T A  

o n 

R A D I C A L  F E M I N I S T  H E A L T H C A R E 

Botanarchy’s model of Radical Feminist Healthcare is oriented towards freeing us from a reliance upon medicines + institutions that are exploitive of natural resources and the body en masse. The rich, expansive palate of nature, Taoism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine provide a path that engenders a true state of bodily autonomyreacquainting us with the rhythms and cycles of our bodies and liberating us from a dependence on healthcare practices that undermine its intelligence and flow. 

Botanarchy as a concept hearkens to the idea that medicine can be both a form of resistance and a reclamation of original, authentic nature. Botanarchy offers a vision of radical feminist healthcare that is built on humanism, integrity, and respect for the flow of the natural world. Botanarchists are committed to ending the corporate co-option of the body, supporting the democratization of medicine, and empowering others to think and feel for themselves.

Every gender expression benefits from radical feminist health care. We are all suffering from being underserved in a for-profit, disease-driven model that has taken power and autonomy out of the hands of the people and put it into the hands of corporations and politicians. As shepherds of this radical feminist healthcare, we aim to rescue medicine from the patriarchy by means of the following core principles:

*Radical feminist healthcare is rooted in natural models that do not suppress the true nature of the body, enhancing connection to both the microcosm of the body and the macrocosm of the earth.

*Radical feminist healthcare is based on thousands of years of observing and revering nature, not heterosexual cis white male bodies.


*Radical feminist healthcare is tethered to natural rhythms and embraces the cycles of change. 

*Radical feminist healthcare honors both light and shadow, recognizing each phase of the creative cycle as medicine — birth, growth, harvest, death, and renewal. 

*Radical feminist healthcare is not based on an unattainable goal of ‘healing’, valuing the full spectrum of human experience instead.

*Radical feminist healthcare is age-positive, committed to providing compassionate healthcare for all stages of personhood, exulting the menstrual cycle and menopause equally as sacred passages. 

*Radical feminist healthcare refuses to industrialize the rhythms and cycles of the body.

*Radical feminist healthcare will never measure health by our ability to work harder, work longer, make more money, increase our sexual potency, feel better with less sleep, compete with each other, push beyond our means and capacity. 

*Radical feminist healthcare is against positing ‘wellness’ as maximizing our output in a capitalist labor market by increasing motivation and productivity.

*Radical feminist healthcare allows every body to define ‘wellness’ on their own terms.

*Radical feminist healthcare supports people in finding their own Tao, recovering the self not corrupted by culture. 

*Radical feminist healthcare individualizes treatment for every body as a unique emanation of the Tao, recognizing that our Tao can be thwarted by multiple forms of systemic discrimination that may block us from thriving in our personhood.

*Radical feminist healthcare is pro-autonomy, helping us recover the capacity to taste and feel and sense for ourselves. 

*Radical feminist healthcare is insistent on inner authority, and never shaming of choice.

*Radical feminist healthcare recognizes a non-binary gender spectrum beyond male and female, and is focused on balancing the masculine + feminine polarity inside all of us regardless of biological sex or gender.

*Radical feminist healthcare sees masculine + feminine as principles existing in a relationship, interdependent, working together, flowing back and forth into each other.

*Radical feminist healthcare acknowledges the emotions as aspects of disease, and is non-shaming of emotional states.

*Radical feminist healthcare is against the immediate medicating of emotions that don’t fit the dominant narratives of ‘health’ and ‘wellness’.

*Radical feminist healthcare is not fear-based and disease-driven.

*Radical feminist healthcare cultivates and value receptivity, gentleness, and subtlety. 

*Radical feminist healthcare empowers mothers and working families with the tools to take care of ourselves and our communities where the system has failed to protect and sustain us.

*Radical feminist healthcare is oriented towards freeing us from a reliance upon privatized healthcare and allopathic methods that often harm the body and undermine its innate, elegant intelligence.

*Radical feminist healthcare transmutes the darkness and discomfort of our bodies and society en masse into something new, in the alchemy of turning lead into gold.


If this manifesta speaks to you, I urge you to share it freely and wantonly! Distribute it in your communities. Demand your doctors treat you in accordance with its precepts. Love your body through the medicine of its message!

In health and solidarity, 

Carolyn

Botanarchy’s Radical Feminist Healthcare Is Exactly What We Need Right Now

I don’t think there’s a one size fits all approach to medicine,” says Carolyn Barron confidently, as we sip jiaogoulong tea in her sunny, Los Angeles office. Barron is the co-founder of Botanarchy, a radical healthcare clinic whose mission is simply to supply “botanical medicine for body autonomy”. The chic, white jumpsuit that Barron sports in lieu of a white lab coat is an apt metaphor for her disruptive perspective, one that eschews traditional Western medicine in a manner that has become increasingly important as healthcare (especially women’s healthcare) comes under fire.

“I think of this as a feminist model of healthcare– but one that’s open to all genders,” Barron continues. “When I say ‘feminist model,’ I mean it’s separate from that patriarchal, old guard [world] of medicine, where it’s disease-driven, dogma-laden, and kind of shaming– shaming of choice, shaming of autonomy, shaming of lifestyle. It’s a more intuitive approach that’s individualistic and treats the root causes of disease instead of doing symptom management,” she explains. “It focuses on autonomy, choice, and teaching patients how to change their own life and their own health,” she continues. “The idea is that they will go on and pass that on to their family, their community.
— Garden Collage Magazine
Carolyn Barron

Boundless gratitude to Garden Collage Magazine for interviewing this Botanarchist on body autonomy, botanical medicine, and how feminist models of healthcare are the future of sustainable medicine. Read the full article here.

Photos by the resplendent @mollybeauchemin