Midwife and herbalist Aviva Romm shares her insights on alternative medicine.
Name: Aviva Romm
Hometown: Canton, Georgia (just outside Atlanta)
Occupation: Certified professional midwife and clinical herbalist; director of LifeCycles Midwifery and Herbal Health Center; executive director and director of education and certification at the American Herbalists Guild; executive editor of the Journal of the American Herbalists Guild; author of Naturally Healthy Babies and Children (Storey, 2000), The Natural Pregnancy Book (The Crossing, 1997), ADHD Alternatives with husband Tracy (Storey, 2000), and two soon-to-be-published books, Vaccinations: A Guide for Thoughtful Parents (Healing Arts, 2001), and Natural Health for New Mothers (Healing Arts, 2001).
Education and Training: Bachelor of Science degree in women’s health studies from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts; self- and apprentice-trained in midwifery; attended Dominion Herbal College in British Columbia.
How did you first become interested in alternative medicine?
I began college to become a physician when I was just fifteen years old. I read an essay by Stanislav Graf entitled “The Perinatal Roots of War,” where he talks about how babies are born into the world and how it shapes their consciousness. If they’re violently born into the world surrounded by medication, they become people who are immersed in violence and drugs. His solution was to create gentle births. This really appealed to me, especially the political, spiritual, and environmental components of his argument. And as a teenager, it was the time to be revolutionary. I left school at sixteen and began to study midwifery and herbal remedies on my own. I read everything I could get my hands on.
What would you say to someone considering alternative medicine?
Trust your common sense and your body. Listen to your self as its own authority and don’t get swept up in fads and gimmicks. Understand from a deep level what is going on. Herbal medicine has a long tradition of looking at lifestyles, experiences, and circumstances. It’s much bigger than just, “Take these herbs and they’ll fix you.” Look to what’s been time-tested and consider a thoughtful blend of both traditional and scientific thinking.
What do you see happening with the interaction between Western and alternative medicines?
I see an incredible synthesis happening between the two. Herbalists are building a strong foundation and are receiving validation for what they do. I’m also seeing a softening around the edges of conventional medicine—inklings of humanization. The presence of herbalists and the demands of consumers are certainly shaping that transformation.
What is your daily routine of alternative therapies?
When I wake up in the morning, I do between twenty and forty-five minutes of either yoga or some other workout—free weights, dancing to music, jumping rope—depending on my mood. I spend as much time outside as possible, and I eat really well. My diet is mostly vegetarian-based, but I will eat meat as needed. I might take nutritional supplements or Chinese herbs but only on an as-needed basis. I find time to relax every day.
What are your hobbies?
I have four kids—ranging in age from six to fifteen—who I home-school, so I don’t have too much spare time. I enjoy crafts—quilting and painting. I love to sing, hike, and garden. I also love to read and keep up with all of my herbal journals. I write in my own journal, too.
Do you have any funny stories to share?
I was pregnant with my fourth child and was coming home one day from the grocery store. I had my cloth bags filled with groceries—including an 18- to 20-inch burdock root—draped over my shoulders. I was at the side door of our house in the garage when I dropped my keys. Keep in mind I live in Georgia where we’ve got lots of snakes—copperhead snakes, rattlesnakes, you name it—and they love to hang out in the rafters. I reached for my keys and felt something flapping on the back of my neck. Here I am swinging my pregnant body around, screaming, “Get it off me!” It was my burdock root! Every time I moved, it moved with me and hit me on the back of my neck. I never laughed so hard!
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