Local naturopath specializes in alternative medicines
Non-psychoactive cannabis is high on her list
This is the first of a two-part series. The second part will run Friday, Oct. 14.
By SUSIE OUDERKIRK
Las Cruces Bulletin
Hilda Luz Chavez, ND, is a third generation healer and curandera. Her work in the Las Cruces community is all about educating and awakening the interest of the younger generations to herbal medicine and supporting the older generations with remedies they remember.
“The Hispanic culture in the Southwest, including New Mexico, has a rich tradition in natural and herbal medicine,” Chavez said. “I am most grateful to my maternal grandmother, who taught me when I was a child about the value of the good herbs and especially the benefits of cannabis.”
Although herbal medicine is seeing a resurgence, Chavez admits “it is still at risk of being forgotten,” even though “our abuelos, grandparents, tried to teach it to us.”
Chavez defines naturopathic medicine as “the oldest form of medicine based on the philosophy that the body has its own innate ability to fight disease and heal itself with the help of nature,” and, interestingly, that “naturopaths are teachers first.”
Chavez’s title is Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and she refers to herself as a “traditional naturopath” and often includes the term “curandera” in her presentations.
“Being a curandera is more of a cultural and family honor; being a naturopath is about the higher education, bringing the two together and bridging the cultural gap,” she said. Of utmost importance to Chavez is a continuum of patient care. When patients come to her for treatment she supports their journey and follows their progress.
“My relationship is one of teacher and student. I meet the patient where they are and work toward teaching them self-responsibility for their health care and well-being using an integrative approach of body, mind and spirit,” she said. “I follow their progress to the degree that they need and seek my guidance. Ultimately, I respect their ability to heal themselves and awaken their inner healer. In the spirit of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, my goal is to do no harm and act as a teacher.”
As a healer who believes in the power of natural medicines, she has spent the last 37 years advocating for the use of medicinal marijuana, (cannabis) and its multi-tasking cousin, hemp.
“As an ND I do my best to bridge the gap between nature and science. The medical world respects and accepts science before nature,” she said.
After a surgery in 1994 that “went terribly wrong,” Chavez went on a search for natural alternatives to find relief from her symptoms, which included pain, nerve damage and inflammation, and rediscovered the benefits of medicinal cannabis. In an article, Chavez wrote: “many cultures have used (cannabis) for hundreds of thousands of years, not by smoking it but by ingesting it, drinking it and using it topically. There was no science or research then, it was all experiential and empirical but it worked.”
Chavez points out in the article that it was only in the last century that cannabis became popular as a recreational drug. Due to this trend, “the good herb became abused and misunderstood, which led to its classification as a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S.”
She is passionate about educating the public to the facts about medical cannabis and hemp. When asked to explain the difference between recreational marijuana and medicinal cannabis, she admits it’s a “deep and controversial subject.” One good thing about any cannabis discussion, she said, is that “Our younger generations, who do not know much about herbs in general, are now interested” because they want to know more about cannabis.
“There are numerous active ingredients in cannabis known as cannabinoids,” Chavez said. “THC cannabinoids are psychoactive, (which make you high, alter your awareness). Cannabidiol (CBD),” which is what Chavez promotes to her patients, “is not psychoactive and is one of the most medicinal of the cannabinoids. It reduces pain and inflammation, relaxes the body, reduces anxiety and helps with sleep.”
“Medical patients do not want or need the high; they want and seek relief from pain and desire to improve their quality of life,” she said. “You do not have to smoke it. Smoking is actually not a healthy way to medicate and is very expensive.”
The medical cannabis issue is still a hotly-debated topic, but, as Chavez said, “This herb is not going away. It is being accepted,” and she’s on the forefront of promoting the benefits and getting relief to her patients with cannabis licenses in southern New Mexico.
Chavez can be reached at 915204-5440 or www.NMMCPCONSULTING. com. Next week: The politics of cannabis
Dr. Hilda Luz Chavez