Resource: “Alternative Medicine” by Burton Goldberg, M.D.
Herbal medicine is the most ancient form of health care known to humankind. Herbs have been used in all cultures throughout history. Extensive scientific documentation now exists concerning their use for health conditions, including premenstrual syndrome, indigestion, insomnia, heart disease, cancer and HIV.
Herbs have always been integral to the practice of medicine. The word drug comes from the old Dutch word drogge meaning “to dry,” as pharmacists, physicians, and ancient healers often dried plants for use as medicines. Today approximately 25 percent of all prescription drugs are still derived from trees, shrubs, or herbs. Some are made from plant extracts; others are synthesized to mimic a natural plant compound.
The World Health Organization notes that of 119 plant-derived pharmaceutical medicines, about 74 percent are used in modem medicine in ways that correlated directly with their traditional uses as plant medicines by native cultures.
Yet, for the most part, modern medicine has veered from the use of pure herbs in its treatment of disease and other health disorders. One of the reasons for this is economic. Herbs, by their very nature, cannot be patented. Since herbs cannot be patented and drug companies cannot hold the exclusive right to sell a particular herb, they are not motivated to invest any money in that herb’s testing or promotion. The collection and preparation of herbal medicine cannot be as easily controlled as the manufacture of synthetic drugs, making its profits less dependable. In addition, many of these medicinal plants grow only in the Amazonian rain forest or other politically and economically unstable places, which also affect the supply of the herb. Most importantly, the demand for herbal medicine has decreased in the United States because Americans have been conditioned to rely on synthetic, commercial drugs to provide quick relief, regardless of side effects.
Yet, the current viewpoint seems to be changing. “The revival of interest in herbal medicine is a worldwide phenomenon,” says Mark Blumenthal, Executive Director of the American Botanical Council. This renaissance is due to the growing concern of the general public about the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, the impersonal and often demeaning experience of modem health care practices, as well as a renewed recognition of the unique medicinal value of herbal medicine.
What Is An Herb?
The word herb as used in herbal medicine (also known as botanical medicine or, in Europe, as phytotherapy or phytomedicine), means a plant or plant part that is used to make medicine, food flavors (spices), or aromatic oils for soaps and fragrances. An herb can be a leaf, a flower, a stem, a seed, a root, a fruit, bark, or any other plant part used for its medicinal, food flavoring, or fragrant property.
Herbs have provided humankind with medicine from the earliest beginnings of civilization. Throughout history, various cultures have handed down their accumulated knowledge of the medicinal use of herbs to successive generations. This vast body of information serves as the basis for much of traditional medicine today.
There are an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 plants on the earth today (the number varies depending on whether subspecies are included). Only about 5,000 of these have been extensively studied for their medicinal applications. “This illustrates the need for modern medicine and science to turn its attention to the plant world once again to find new medicine that might cure cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and many other diseases and conditions.” Says Norman R. Farnsworth, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Considering that 121 prescription drugs come from only ninety species of plants, and that 74 percent of these were discovered following up native folklore claims,” says Dr. Farnsworth, “a logical person would have to say that there may still be more jackpots out there.”
How Herbal Medicine Works
In general, herbal medicines work in much the same way as do conventional pharmaceutical drugs, i.e., via their chemical makeup. Herbs contain a large number of naturally occurring chemicals that have biological activity. In the past 150 years, chemist and pharmacists have been isolating and purifying the “active” compounds from plants in an attempt to produce reliable pharmaceutical drugs. Examples include such drugs like digoxin (from foxglove [purpurea]), reserpine (from Indian snakeroot [serpentine]), colchicines (from autumn crocus [autumnale]), morphine (from opium poppy [sonmiafera]), and many more.
Herbs in Many Forms
Herbs and herbal products come in many forms.
- Whole Herbs: Whole herbs are plants or plant parts that are dried and then either cut powdered. They can be used as teas or for a variety of products at home.
- Teas: Teas come either loose or in teabags. When steeped in boiled water for a few minutes, the fragrant, aromatic flavor and the herbs’ medicinal properties are released.
- Capsules and tablets: in pill form for those who prefer pills. Take longer to digest and assimilate.
- Extracts and Tinctures: These offer the advantage of high concentration in low weight and space. They are also quickly assimilated compared to tablets, which take more time to disintegrate and ingest. Extracts and tinctures almost always contain alcohol. The alcohol is used for two reasons: as a solvent to extract the various non-water-soluble compounds from an herb, and as a preservative to maintain shelf life. Properly made extracts and tinctures have virtually an indefinite shelf life.
- Essential Oils: Essential oils are usually distilled from various parts of medicinal and aromatic plants. Some oils, however, like those from lemon, orange, and other citrus fruits, are actually expressed directly from the peels. Essential oils are concentrated, with one or two drops often constituting adequate dosage.
- Salves, Balms, and Ointments: For thousands of years, humans have used plants to treat skin irritations, wounds, and insect and snake bites. In prehistoric times, herbs were cooked in a vat of goose or bear fat, lard, or some vegetable oils and then cooled in order to make salves, balms, and ointments.
Conditions Benefited by Herbal Medicine
Herbal remedies can be used for a wide range of minor ailments that are amenable to self-medication, including stomach upset, the common cold, flu, minor aches and pains, constipation and diarrhea, coughs, headaches, menstrual cramps, digestive disturbances, sore muscles, skin rashes, sunburn, dandruff, and insomnia. A growing number of American health consumers use herbal remedies for these conditions, which have been traditionally the domain of the nonprescription or over-the-counter drugs.
Other conditions that respond well to herbal medicine include: digestive disorders such as peptic ulcers, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome; rheumatic and arthritic conditions; chronic skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis; problems of the menstrual cycle and especially premenstrual syndrome; anxiety and tension-related stress; bronchitis and other respiratory conditions; hypertension; and allergies.
Herbal medicines can also be used for a number of conditions normally treated by prescription only. One example is milk thistle seed extract for use in cirrhosis and hepatitis. Another example is the use of hawthorn as a heart tonic. This herb is highly recommended for cardiac patients by physicians in Germany.
“When treating chronic illness with herbal medicine it is extremely important to treat the entire body, as the illness may be simultaneously affecting many systems of the body at various levels,” says Mary Bove, ND. L.M., head of the Department of Botanical Medicine at Bastyr College of Natural Health Sciences, in Seattle, Washington. “The course of the treatment must include nutritional, tonic, and restorative plants in conjunction with herbs that support the body’s elimination functions. Digestive function is also an important consideration in most chronic diseases. The duration of treatment is often longer, with a constant dose of the remedy being given over a longer period of time.”
The Future of Herbal Medicine
According to James Duke, Ph.D., a scientist and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) specialist in the area of herbal medicine, one of the reasons that research into the field of herbal medicine has been lacking is the enormous financial cost of the testing required to prove a new “drug” safe. Dr. Duke has seen that price tag rise from 91 million dollars over ten years ago to the present figure of 231 million dollars. Dr. Duke asks, “What commercial drug dealer is going to want to prove that saw palmetto is better than his multimillion dollar drug, when you and I can go to Florida and harvest our own saw palmetto?”
Yet the future looks bright for those who want to explore the benefits of herbal medicine. The demand for an alternative to synthetic and pharmaceutical drugs is
growing, and herbal medicine is working to meet it. “I feel very optimistic about the future of herbal medicine,” says David Hoffmann, past President of the American Herbalist Guild. “It has an abundance of gifts to offer both individuals in search of health and a society in search of compassionate and affordable health care. With the growing recognition of the value of herbs, it is surely time to examine the professional therapeutic use of these herbs. There are profound changes happening in the American culture and herbal medicine, ‘green medicine,’ is playing an ever-increasing role in people’s experience of this transformation.”
Why Do We Use and Recommend Only “Herbs of Light” Liquid Herbal Extracts and Blends?
It is important to us at Living Foods Institute that we use and recommend only the very best products to our students. This is why we use only one brand of herbs, “Herbs of Light” CERTIFIED BIODYNAMIC & WILDCRAFTED, GMO Free (Not Genetically Modified) and created with Certified BioDynamic Grape Alcohol Liquid Herbal Extracts and Blends.
The ideal method of utilizing herbs is to ingest the living plant immediately after picking. Once a plant is harvested, its vital force starts to release. Herbs of Light’s passion, in producing liquid herbal extracts, is to make sure that the botanical herb thriving in the ground with all of its chemistry, balance and energy gets into the person. The synergy which is created from an herb’s chemistry and also its energy is essential in producing the efficacy which Hippocrates, the father of medicine, talked about when he said, “Let Your Food Be Your Medicine.”
Herbs of Light uses Certified BioDynamic Grape Alcohol and Wildcrafted or Certified BioDynamic Herbs within its process. They use special techniques that ensure elevated energy levels which provide essential absorption and transmission capabilities within the body’s cellular structures. Their cold process extraction results in the highest “balanced” constituent and micronutrient levels possible.
Because of their philosophy and process, Herbs of Light has been honored to supply their liquid herbal extracts for the Edgar Cayce Products in Virginia Beach, VA.
Herbs of Light presents BioDynamic Grape Alcohol
It is Guaranteed GMO Free. BioDynamic grape alcohol is used for the extraction process of the herbal extracts and blends. This is the finest alcohol known in providing the needed energies for the extraction process. It also assists the vitality and preservation of the micro nutrients within the extract. There are no GMO’s within this alcohol even from the cross pollination of other genetically altered plants. This normally comes from other adjacent non-organic fields. The source of their BioDynamic Grape Alcohol is secured from this potential hazard due to the unique geography of the BioDynamic Vineyard. Most organic corn fields and grape vineyards are not as fortunate.
BioDynamic Agriculture — What is it?
BioDynamic agriculture is an understanding of how humans can assist Mother Earth (our soil) in continually creating and preserving its energy and activity of living organisms. When vitality and life is restored within our soils, our foods can then become literally “true food.” This food has superior taste, long storage life and enhanced vitality which has been proven through European studies of comparison. This BioDynamic food has brought back the nourishment that food is capable of which Hippocrates spoke of when he said, “Let Your Food Be Your Medicine.”