On these dreary winter days — You might follow Chatroux's advice —

Take two poems and call me in the morning

Pardon the doggerel, but one Ashland medical doctor, Sylvia — Chatroux, has gone way outside the box, composing a book of verse to educate — people on common ailments and their herbal - that's right, herbal - cures — and preventions.

Especially relevant in this season of scarce flu shots, — the charming, hardbound volume, called "Botanica Poetica," whimsically — versifies the properties of 111 common herbs, many of them natural immune — system builders.

"If you're older or have chronic illness, of course you — try to get the flu shot," said Chatroux, who also is a homeopath, "but — if you're in good health, the best prevention is a healthy diet, exercise, — lots of sleep, wash your hands a lot (so you don't introduce germs into — eyes, nose and mouth), avoid sugar, which trashes the immune system and, — of course, use herbs."

In the irresistible and wryly penned verses of her book, — Chatroux paints an intimate picture of the herbal queendom, a passel of — plants whose leaves, stems, seeds, roots or flowers work, not only to — build immunity but handle colds, upset stomach, female ills, headaches, — stress, diarrhea - you name it.

As your own personal "flu shot," nature offers enhanced — immunity with parsley, fennel, ginger, cayenne, garlic, propolis, echinacea, — horehound, astragalus, angelica, hawthorne berry, Oregon grape root, bone — set, mullein leaf and ginseng, most of them praised in her book.

If you're too busy to make teas from herbs available in — local shops, Chatroux recommends one of the herbal supplements, such as — the popular Wellness Formula by Source Natural, which contains most of — these herbs.

Her homage to germ-battling garlic, like all the others, — invites readers to romp and play, as they open the door to learning:

"When cholesterol is high / triglycerides are on the rise — / hypertension's plaguing you / arteriosclerosis, there's that too! / — Garlic helps with that and more / improves blood flow once so poor / Fights — infection / fights disease / brings a parasite to its knees / Take it — for a cough or flu / zaps bacteria, virus too / It's antioxidant, prevents — cancer / Garlic might just be the answer."

As you peruse charming old woodcuts and etchings, most — from the 19th century, you learn that white oak - the one found here - — is good in a compress for external infection, eczema and poison oak. In — small amounts, it handles diarrhea.

Like most herbs, cayenne, another plant with antibiotic — properties, works against many ailments: "Rub the oils on muscles sore — / Painful joints and aches galore / It's a boost for your blood flow / — Heat you up where once was snow." This common plant, which few people — recognize as a medicine, said Chatroux, is also good for digestion, gas, — flu and longevity.

As a medical doctor, Chatroux stressed that she uses mainstream — medicine with her patients, but often complements a plan with herbs, simply — because "they work."

She learned herbalism from nurse practitioner Mary Beth — Roberts of Ashland in weekly study sessions and observed that many mainstream — doctors and med schools are opening up to herbs and other alternative — treatments "that should not be ignored," calling the assemblage complementary — medicine.

A native New Yorker, Chatroux received her bachelor's — degree in literature at Sarah Lawrence College and felt destined for a — life in writing and sculpture. However, she experienced an epiphany - — "I saw that God was love and the function of life was to enjoy life and — help others enjoy life" - so she entered pre-med at Columbia then medical — school at Stony Brook School of Medicine.

"I would write poems all the time in med school about — any and every subject, like a poem on how hard exams were. They were hugely — popular and people came to expect them of me," said Chatroux. When her — medical practice was up and running, the muse retuned.

Chatroux in 1998 wrote "Materia Poetica; Homeopathy in — Verse," about uses of homeopathic medicines and in 2002 "Medica Poetica; — Malady in Verse," describing common illnesses. All are self-published — by her Poetica Press, (877) POETICA, www.poeticapress.com or Sylvia@poeticapress.com. —

She's had a book signing at Bloomsbury Books in Ashland, — where her books are stocked, and will do a reading and signing at — p.m. — Nov. 21 at Alchemy Botanical, an herb shop across the street from Bloomsbury. —

Chatroux met her husband, social worker Noel Chatroux, — at a martial arts retreat in Thailand. They moved to Ashland 10 years — ago from Klamath Falls. In recent years, she has written children's books — (versified and based on the family's dogs) and even queried agents and — publishers in verse, but with no bites as yet from either.

Now, Chatroux often uses her daughters, Louisa, 15, and — Isabelle, 11, as muses, asking them to help her rhyme lines.

"The best one was 'calm.' I could not think of a word — to rhyme with it, so Isabelle says, 'Mom, it rhymes with mom' - so I used — that. It was perfect."