BIOGRAPHY OF DR. JOHN RAYMOND CHRISTOPHER - PART II
BLOOD PRESSURE HERBS (CAYENNE, GINGER, GARLIC, ETC.)
During his time at the dispensary, Ray started his personal search for an herb that could relieve his own serious health problem, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, which he had suffered since adolescence. He began working with cayenne, which is high in calcium and vitamin C. He found that cayenne is one of the best remedies for the heart. He saw that it restores and retains the elasticity of the blood vessels, correcting or preventing hardening of the arteries and preserving the health of the circulatory system. Ray also found that cayenne equalized blood circulation and brought blood pressure to normal. He even found that cayenne was powerful enough to stop a heart attack in progress. In later years, carrying cayenne in his herbal doctor's bag, he never lost a person to a heart attack. He remembered one woman who had suffered from heart problems for eighteen years. She had taken powerful heart medication for more than seven years. After starting cayenne, she was able to stop this medication within months. Her varicose veins also completely cleared.
Soon Ray added ginger, parsley, golden seal, garlic and Siberian ginseng root to cayenne to create a formula called BPE, which equalizes blood pressure and builds the health of the circulatory system. This formula, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, prolonged Ray's own life many years after the doctors' predictions. At age 45, ten years after the doctors predicted he would die, Ray had a full physical examination. The doctors were astounded to see that he had the blood pressure of a healthy teenager. Just before his death, Ray's blood pressure at seventy years was that of a young man in his twenties.
During World War II, racial prejudice was still rampant. Ray began to understand and feel the distress of the black soldiers who were treated so negatively at the dispensaries. Black soldiers often suffered physical agony in silence rather than go there. But soon word spread that the dispensary head at Fort Lewis was different; within months he was seeing dozens of black soldiers every day. They received kindness as well as the superior care from herbal treatments.
At Fort Lewis dispensary, Ray had the chance to experiment with different herbs that he had only studied about previously. There he began to develop his own herbal formulas, which remain to this day a singular contribution to herbal medicine.
HARVESTING WEEDS AT DAWN
When Ray's military obligation was over, Major Shumate invited him to spend another tour of duty in the dispensary and let the Army pay for his medical education. But Ray preferred to go home to Olympia, Washington, home to his wife. Now he was ready to become a natural doctor, his childhood dream. Coming home with the knowledge and first-hand experience of using herbs in the army, he wanted to expand his skills and help others.
He and his wife agreed that he should travel to Canada to study under Dr. H. Nowell at Dominion Herbal College. There he earned his Master Herbalist Degree. He returned home to Olympia to set up his first practice. But during those final war years and their aftermath, Ray found it difficult to practice as an herbalist.
First of all, it was hard to build enough of a practice to support his small family. In those post-war years, jobs were scarce, and most people had little money to pay for treatment. And unlike today, it was impossible to order herbs through wholesale houses. There were few enough of these businesses, and most of these were forced to close their doors in those lean years. But Ray figured out what to do and did it with typical vigor: he secured a job weeding gardens each morning for ready cash, and then took the medicinal varieties home in large burlap bags
He would spread his morning's harvest across the counter tops of their small kitchen. Then he would wash each weed, rinsing out the soil carefully. He sorted them carefully into categories and then prepared them to use for his patients that afternoon. Ray turned a difficulty into a blessing: he had cash to sustain his family, and also had the freshest herbs one could desire. But he never withheld any knowledge to line his wallet; he taught his patients to harvest their own herbs from their own backyards and treat themselves.
One of the most successful "weeds" he used was plantain. Ray knew that Galen and Pliny, ancient herbalists, had used it as a powerful blood purifier to kill infection rapidly. He also knew that it would relieve blood poisoning that can result from cuts, slivers, bites, and stings. In one astonishing case, Ray treated a man who had slipped at work and drove a chisel deep into his palm. The man couldn't afford to take time off, nor to pay any doctors' fees, so he wrapped the hand with a dirty rag and finished his day's work. He even worked for a few additional days.
By the time he arrived at Ray's office, his hand was swollen and hot and a red streak ran from the badly infected hand up the arm. A painful lump the size of a baseball in his armpit prevented the man from dropping his arm to his side. The man was frantic with pain and fear. Ray asked him why he hadn't sought medical treatment when the condition became so severe, but the man was afraid that his arm would have been amputated. Ray taught him how to dig up plantain plants, wash and crush them, put them on the wound and bandage them in place. He was to add fresh herb to the poultice every time it dried out. He was also to drink at least three cups a day of the tea. The man wanted to come back for a checkup, but Ray assured him that he would be healed completely by the next day.
The man did return in three days, but only to report what seemed to him a miracle. On the first day, the red streak had disappeared within a few hours and the swelling in the armpit had reduced. By evening, the wound was much better, and within a day or two, the condition was completely healed. The man had full use of his hand and arm and was able to earn a living for his family.
In a similar case, a young girl had cut her foot on a shell while clam hunting at the beach. She had continued to run and play for the afternoon, but by the next morning her foot and leg were swollen and feverish. She also had a red streak forming toward her groin. Ray gave her similar instructions as he had for the man with the chisel wound. The wound healed quickly, and the next day the child skipped into Ray's office to pay him. He protested that the pay was too much, but the child said, "Mama told me to bring you this much because my foot healed so quickly." As it turned out, the Christopher's were paid many times over for this assistance, because this girl's family owned a smorgasbord in Spokane, and were some of the few people in the area who were able to get butter and fresh produce because of wartime rationing. Throughout the remainder of the war, they saw to it that the Christopher's had a little butter and some fresh fruits and vegetables as a token of their appreciation.
Because plantain and other herbs are only available during the summer, Ray began to concoct concentrates, tinctures, and ointments to use year-round. Once a mother called Ray about her ten-year-old son who had been stung by a wasp. His hand was severely swollen and he had passed out from the pain.
Ray tucked a jar of plantain ointment into his bag and went on the house call. When he arrived, the child was still unconscious and his hand swollen to twice its size. Ray quickly spread a thick layer of plantain ointment over the bite about the size of a silver dollar, covered the ointment with gauze, and used a gauze bandage to hold the patch in place.
Is that all you're going to do? the mother asked. "That's all that needs to be done," Ray smiled and told her that the ointment would draw the poison from the sting and relieve the pain and swelling. The boy soon regained consciousness and sat up. Within a half hour, the pain was much relieved, and by next day he was out playing baseball with his friends.
BONE, FLESH AND CARTILAGE (BF&C)
Building on his early experiences with black walnut tincture, Dr. Christopher developed the Bone, Flesh and Cartilage formula for skin trouble. The additional herbs made a wonderfully effective remedy for minor burns, infection, cuts, abrasions, bruises, hemorrhages, sore gums, bunions and corns. It also removes calcium deposits that exacerbate arthritis. A nurse in California used it to dissolve a bone spur on her heel. It has healed skin cancers. And it works, as the black walnut tincture does, for eczema, psoriasis, and other chronic skin conditions.
The beloved story of how Dr. Christopher came by the BF&C formula begins when a woman came to his office early one morning, panicky and desperate. Hours earlier, her fourteen-year-old daughter had attempted suicide. She left the daughter in the care of several neighbors to find help from Dr. Christopher. The girl had developed' almost three years before, a severe case of dermatitis, with heavy scales on her face, neck, arms and hands, legs and feet. No physician or specialist had been able to identify her condition, much less find a cure. She began to gorge herself, became extremely overweight, and eventually decided to end her life. As Ray listened to this desperate mother, he offered a silent prayer for help and "a formula came immediately to my mind" as he related it. He jotted the herbs down and gave the mother complete instructions on how to make and apply the fomentation and tea, and sent her to an herb shop to get them.
Four days after this mother had come to his office, she called to report that the scabs and scales were gone, and the girl's skin began to show what the mother termed' "a healing glow." Six months later she was a cheerleader at school and enjoying all the social activities of girls of her age.
BF&C has been known to heal wounds, even surgical incisions that have failed to heal. One California woman had an abdominal surgical wound that had been draining for more than three years. She applied the ointment to the wound and took the capsules internally. Within seven days, the wound was entirely healed.
BF&C has even been known to regenerate tissue. Ray's nephew was a passenger in a car accident, and although relatives held onto him so that he wasn't thrown from the car, he was dragged for some distance along the hot asphalt, and his small fingers were scraped to stubs as far as his first knuckles. Ray gave the child capsules of BF&C and told the parents to mix the powder with honey and wheat germ oil. Within two months, the fingers had healed, complete with perfectly formed fingernails. When Ray next saw his nephew, the child ran toward him and threw his arms around him. "Look, Uncle Ray!" he shouted. "My fingers grew back!"
In a similar story, a young woman came to Ray and said, "How do you like my fingers?" He said he thought they were beautiful, clean, and well manicured. "Can you tell which finger was cut off?" she asked him. He couldn't tell, even when he looked close. She told him her story: her finger had been amputated below the knuckle. She had used BF&C, and the knuckle had regenerated. Gradually, all the bone and flesh filled in, and even the fingernail grew back perfectly formed.
HERBS FOR BURNS (COMFREY, WHEAT GERM OIL, ETC.)
One of Dr. Christopher's most dramatic cases of skin regeneration involved two ten- year-old boys who were playing with matches and gasoline, when the gas burst into flame. Both boys were severely burned. The surgeon at the hospital said that the hands would either have to be amputated at the wrist and iron claws attached to both arms, or the boys could endure several years of painful skin graft surgeries. After years of such surgery, the boys would have nothing better than mummified claws which could never move like fingers.
One set of parents told the surgeon to begin operations; the other set of parents took their child to Dr. Christopher. He cringed at the badly scarred skin, tendons, muscles and nerves. He gave the parents a salve made of comfrey, honey, and wheat germ oil. He told the parents to keep a thick layer of this burn ointment on the area.
Within a week, the parents took their son to see the surgeon, who was dumbfounded. The burns had healed from third-degree to first-degree. "What on earth have you been using?" he asked. The parents just said, "An old-fashioned remedy." "Whatever it is, keep on using it. I don't think there's need for surgery now. I can't believe it. But these hands are going to heal without scar tissue."
A year after the burn, the first boy remained in the hospital. The parents had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on the surgery and skin grafting, but the boy ended up with stiff, unbending claws that the boy hid with gloves.
The other boy, whose parents had applied the herbal salve, healed completely. The tendons, nerves, muscles and flesh were all renewed, with no scar tissue. Even the fingernails grew back. The family's total investment was less than twenty dollars for the herbal salve.