Herbal remedy, cosmic energy

Herbalist Harry Chrissakis’ healing philosophy draws from range of disciplines

Harry Chrissakis, man of herbs.

Harry Chrissakis, man of herbs.


See the herbalist:
Harry Chrissakis practices in Chico, Red Bluff and Oregon House. His Chico office is at 574 Manzanita Ave., Ste. 4. For an appointment, visit www.herbalistandherbs.com or call 933-8244.

Chrissakis also conducts a lecture series. His next talk—“Losing Weight and Maintaining Weight Loss”—is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. at Yuba Harvest, 9222 Marysville Road, Oregon House.

Harry Chrissakis defies categorization, professionally and personally. He spent 10 years as a chef before embarking on a far-reaching study of healing techniques, culminating in the herbal medicine practice he established in the North State. He’s also a musician, half of the duo SoundSpeak LC, writing songs and performing around Northern California.

Though he doesn’t integrate music with medicine, he admits “it’s very hard to separate cooking, healing and music—there’s some kind of similar juice that runs through all of them, a cosmic energy. There’s a relationship.”

But don’t jump to the conclusion that Chrissakis is an ethereal healer. He studied under an osteopath, and he encourages his patients to see their M.D. or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy, an alternative medicine that uses physical therapy to promote health). He believes herbal remedies—Eastern medicine—can complement, rather than conflict with, so-called modern medicine.

“I want to see this actually become part of Western medicine, because I think it’s a big, key element that they’re missing and it could provide such a huge benefit,” he said. “Thing is, it’s not outside the range of their minds; it’s totally within the language and culture of their science. It’s just the way the information is sewn together.

“It’s true they’re not herbalists; again, it’s not beyond the capacity of people who are that intelligent to learn.”

Oncology is a case in point: Chrissakis says herbal medicine offers means to “undermine the infrastructure” of cancer cells, thereby making treatments more effective. It’s not either/or—chemotherapy may well be necessary for a severely ill patient, while herbal remedies serve as a supplement.

“At a certain point, you can pour all the herbs in the universe in someone, and they will die,” he says. “If you do not use these heavy guns, you will not stop this cancer; it’s just gotten too much of a foothold into the body.

“Integrating that very powerful medicine [with herbal medicine] would create a very different perspective. But, again, that’s a lot to ask.”

Chrissakis, 60, grew up in New Jersey. As a teenager, he developed an interest in plants, but after a hitchhiking trip brought him to Alaska, he got introduced to cooking and wound up going to culinary school. A decade in East Coast restaurants left him at a career crossroads; he decided to follow his true interest and embark on a study of healing.

He began at the Institute of Chinese Herbology in the Bay Area. Next came three years of Shiatsu massage training. He then headed to Florida, to the Upledger Institute, for a program on craniosacral therapy (an offshoot of osteopathic medicine involving light-touch techniques), and returned to the Bay Area to learn more about osteopathy from Dr. Mark Rosen.

Over time, Chrissakis has amassed mentors in various disciplines.

“When I work, I think in multiple languages,” he said. In other words, he draws from various fields but views them as separate entities.

“It’s not like you take French and Spanish and it becomes a new language; you think in French or you think in Spanish. So, I think Western or Eastern or body work, but usually when I’m communicating with my clients I’ll talk very little about Eastern energetics, because it’s a whole other model.”

Chrissakis started practicing herbal medicine around San Francisco in 1989 before moving to Dobbins and opening an office in neighboring Oregon House. Around five years ago, he expanded to Chico; he also sees patients in Red Bluff.

“I still use body work if people need it, but a lot of my work is consultation,” Chrissakis said, “designing programs either for people who want to stay strong or people who are sick—help them with their treatment protocols and/or work with assisting them if they have disease.

“Basically, trying to get people well.”

He has a variety of herbs, extracts and nutritional supplements—some of which he formulates, some of which he purchases. Patients may take them in the form of tinctures (drops that dissolve under the tongue), capsules, powders and even shakes.

Chrissakis sees his approach fitting into a “holistic, physiologic model” of health and health care, as opposed to the model used by most standard-practice doctors, which is to treat the symptoms of a disease.

“Standard practice approach to chronic disease is based on the wrong model,” he said. “They have tremendous strengths in the areas of diagnostics, surgery and acute crisis care; but in the area of chronic disease, if you follow the pharmaceutical model, you’ll end up with the result that you have. If you follow the holistic model, which goes from health to disease back to health again, then you have something that’s really valuable.”