• Kandis Twa

From Rehabilitative Medicine to Plant Medicine—My Journey Through Miracles

Updated: Aug 14, 2018


In the end, how I was lead to these miracles was just something that I can’t really describe. I think we all experience that ‘something’ at various points in life. Who knows what that ‘something’ is that leads you down a different path, or causes you meet people that will have a profound impact upon your life. I can just say I’m very grateful to that ‘something’ for it’s perfect intervening in my life.



Medicine for the body

That ‘something’ initially drew me into a degree in rehabilitative medicine and physiotherapy then to job working with athletes. I had the privilege of working with the Edmonton Oilers NHL hockey team, and top-tier sports medicine surgeons whose patients were at the peak of their athletic careers. I loved it, but helping athletes get back to their sport (which for the most part they easily did) was drastically different compared to where I was being led.


After a couple of years in the world of athletics, that ‘something’ nudged me towards taking on a new challenge, new patients, with different injuries—complex hand injuries. The surgeon that I went to work for was a brilliant man who believed in taking on really tough cases. He built his reputation on achieving successful results for patients that other doctors didn’t know to treat or diagnose. As a result, the patients that I was seeing were suffering from cases of phantom pain, chronic pain, Raynaud’s disease, and other massively complex diagnoses that weren’t well understood by conventional medical practice. I knew that my new job of trying to help these people was going to be a major challenge for me—and I was looking for a challenge—what I didn’t know was how much this new job was going to test my education, and ultimately, my philosophy of how the body works.


When medicine doesn't heal

You know the old adage, be careful what you wish for? Well, I was living it! It was probably less than one week after starting this new job, before I started thinking, ‘What have I gotten myself into? I have no idea what I’m going to do to help these people’. All of these patients had already received standard care from very competent doctors and therapists. Standard care is what we’re taught in school about how to treat specific diagnosis. The problem was this standard care hadn’t worked, which is why these folks were referred to us. Now it was up to me to try and come up with a new strategy, and I really had no idea what I was going to do.



Here’s what I was up against: I remember one of my patients had been diagnosed with ‘phantom pain’. That means this poor man was experiencing pain in a finger that had been surgically amputated. He told me, “I feel like I am going crazy because even though the finger isn’t there anymore, it still wakes me up at night because it hurts so much. How is that possible?” Turns out, I didn’t really know how it was possible, or how I was going to treat a body part that no longer existed! I figured I better hurry and I find someone who could explain it to me.


Meeting a maestro of medicine

That ‘something’ lead me to that someone. He was my acupuncture teacher, Dr. A. He’s a tiny Chinese man with a presence about him that makes you immediately feel comfortable, and completely in awe at the same time. Physical pain, he explained, does not last long. When pain lingers it’s coming from an imbalance in the person’s energy field. To help them you must work on the energetic level. When he first explained this to me I had no idea what he meant, or how I could ‘treat someone on the energetic level.’ I knew instantly that this was going to be a completely different kind of education!


One of the very first patients I remember seeing with Dr. A was a varsity basketball player who was suffering with a non-union lateral malleolus fracture (translation: broken ankle, not healing). She came into the examination room with her walking cast on, and told the story of how, after a devastating injury on the court, she’d been bounced around from doctor to doctor with no answers, and an ankle that just would not heal. This poor girl was in rough shape emotionally and could barely walk without serious pain. Dr. A listened to her go through the whole saga, and just sweetly listened and nodded his head. When she finished he asked her to take off her walking cast, which is like a big velcro bootie, so that he could have a look at her ankle. She did this very gingerly, but my teacher was not really interested in her ankle.


Instead he looked in her eyes, took her pulse, and looked at her tongue. I wasn’t sure what her tongue had to do with anything, but I was the student. I wasn’t about to ask questions because he did this so naturally I assumed I should’ve know what was going on. He said to her, “The reason your ankle is not healing is because your vital life force energy is not flowing properly.”


Ummm, excuse me? Vital life force energy? He could understand that from her tongue?

I had never heard anyone use those terms in a clinical setting before, and here is this itty bitty Chinese man talking about healing requiring the flow of vital life force energy?

Now the basketball player was also looking at my teacher like he’d descended from a different planet.


She said she was willing to try anything to get back to the sport she loved. He asked her to sit on the bed with her sore foot stretched out in front of her. She did this, and my teacher started to slowly run his hands, down her leg from her knee to her foot, very deliberately, but without touching her leg.


It was as if he was conducting some unseen orchestra around her leg and foot.


This went on for a couple of minutes. He worked in silence while the basketball player and I exchanged some sideways and slightly confused glances.


Suddenly, he stoped and said to her with a warm smile, “Ah, that is much better. Now I would like you to try and put some weight on your foot.” She looked at him, confused, but she cautiously slid off the bed to tenderly place her foot on the ground. As she slowly placed weight on to her foot, I watched her facial expression change from a grimace of expected pain, to astonishment as she was standing normally without any pain! She looked up at my teacher and was instantly overcome by a flood of tears.


“I can’t believe it! It doesn’t hurt at all. What did you do?”


I don’t know who was more shocked—me or her—but that experience changed my life.

This experience was long before I had heard of reiki, or energy healing, and Dr. A was the first of many teachers I was honoured to see working in ways that were so different from what I’d learned in school.


What I’d learned in school is what all people in health-care learn. We are taught a curriculum that’s founded in a chemical-Newtonian model that basically says you are the sum of your physical parts. According to that model, these new things I was witnessing, learning about, and applying in my own rehabilitative practice were just not possible, yet I was seeing them work first-hand.


I have a degree in medicine, but what do I understand?

During this time I was meeting people who were reiki masters, and qi gong practitioners, and they helped me to understand the body as an integrated system of energy that extends far beyond just the physical body. I was amazed, and inspired although initially confused because I didn’t know how to reconcile two seemingly opposite models of understanding about how the body works.


On the one hand you have the ‘new kid on the block’, western medicine based in materialist science. On the other hand you have this whole other realm of thousand-year-old medicine based upon an understanding of the person as a spiritual being. They seem so different, but they both can work. How can that be? The only answer is that there has to be a common thread. But what was it?


I find a bridge

A couple of years later I was having dinner with a family friend when that ‘something’ interceded again into my life. Jim had been a friend of my parents for years, and I was always happy when he was invited over for dinner. Jim would share with us about his latest adventures visiting shamans in Peru, or crisscrossing the continent to raise the energetic vibrations of rivers and lakes. I was always fascinated by his information. When he mentioned that he’d just finished writing three books bridging science to spirituality, I was fascinated. I was naturally eager to read these books because they offered an explanation of the common thread I was looking for. This was perfect!


I was over the moon excited to read these books, and my life changed again. The information in those pages allowed me to reconcile those deep questions within myself about the nature of how the body works, and ultimately lead me to eventually quit my job as a therapist and go to work full time with Jim at Pure Leadership. This platform allowed me to grow even more, to research, and consider many, many different concepts of health, wellbeing and the nature of who we really are. I was blessed to have met amazing teachers, researchers and writers in this job, and when I plunged deeply into the study of herbology—there was that ‘something’ again.


Spirit Medicine

The woman that I first learned herbology from is part of the Cree nation. She’s a traditional medicine woman, but also has all of her allopathic (western-medicine) training, which made learning from her so dynamic. One minute she would be deeply into relaying the phytochemical profile of a plant, and in the next minute she’d be ushering us outside to listen to the spirit of that plant. When I first started looking at traditional native medicines, I would get confused because there isn’t just one usage for a plant. Comfrey for example, is used by some for wound healing, others for badder infections, and some will use it effectively for skin rashes. How can one plant have so many different uses? I would ask my herbology teacher

“Plants are medicine for the spirit. And if you can help the spirit to heal, you'll heal the body”.



I’m so grateful to her for starting me off with this perspective of plant medicine. She would say, all plants are a form of life and they deserve to be respected as such. As I learned more from this woman, and other women in the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Blackfoot nations, they all spoke about the spirit of the plant as having a voice. Our ancestors, they would say, learned directly from the plants. “The plants tell us how they are to be used”. This understanding is one of the greatest gifts I’ve received in my life: that all plants have a voice, and you can hear it if you know how to listen.


As a result of this learning, and my experiences, I really felt compelled to put together a project at Pure Leadership to examine and publish the different effects that various plants and herbs have on the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of ourselves. When I started this project I had no idea how big it would become, I just knew that there’s plenty of research that’s been done on the effects that various herbs, plants and essential oils have on the physical body, but nothing that looks at the beautiful spiritual nature of the plants that I was discovering. Each of these plants has a voice and now that I’ve been given the precious gift to hear those voices. I wanted to create Elixirs for Life as a way to share those voices with you.


The messages from these plants are the foundation for all of the products we create, and information in the books we publish. It is sacred, and beautiful, and it is a team-effort!

A very special person on that team is Memra Yekara, and I’m blessed to have had her guidance, love and support. Memra is a world-class channeller who’s spent countless hours bringing through some of the most foundational information for this project. I am eternally grateful to her, to all of my experiences, all of the learning, and all of the wonderful wisdom I have received from countless teachers, that allowed me to be here, and to share what I’ve learned.


I’ve loved this time in my life of research and discovery! And I share with you because I know that if you’re here, it’s because you are like I was, seeking to know yourself and this miracle of life on a deeper level. I hope that this information, and these products are helpful to you, that they prove useful in assisting you in achieving greater wholeness in all aspects of your journey in life!


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Photography by Stacey Deering

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