Living Medicine Vs Pharmaceuticals, part 3: Herbs that Cure, page 2

My Chorale Pic

I’ve been sharing and commenting on an interview in the December, 2014 issue of The SUN magazine with master herbalist Stephen Buhner, a magazine that traditionally carries quality writings by little-known authors. We’ve been talking about herbs as “living medicines” as opposed to pharmaceutical drugs, and I thought my readers would be interested in knowing more about specific herbs and their benefits. So, here are some of the more popular herbs I use in my practice to support the healing process and healthy function in general. I will highlight in this post some of the herbs that help circulation and the immune system in the body and support the body rather than do its job for it and thereby depriving it of its education on handling environmental toxins and invasive germs, viruses and bacteria. So, read on if you want to know more about these living medicines and their benefits to your health and longevity.

HERBS THAT HEAL

BilberryBILBERRY — is the herb of choice for eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts. That’s because it supports microcirculation through the small capillaries in the eyes. But not just in the eyes, also in the brain and throughout the entire body. Additionally it . . .

  • Promotes vascular integrity
  • Builds healthy connective tissue
  • Eases the effects of occasional aching or throbbing discomfort
  • Supports and maintains normal fluid levels
  • Supports healthy peripheral circulation
  • Supports healthy response to environmental stresses
  • Enhances urinary tract function
  • Maintains healthy eyes
  • Provides antioxidant protection

HORSECHESTNUT SEED — is another herb for improved microcirculation of blood through small capillaries. Medi-Herb has an excellent Horsechestnut Complex that is a synergistic blend of Butcher’s Broom root & Rhizome, Horsechestnut seed and Ginkgo Biloba leaf. Together these herbs and the compounds within them help to:

  • promote venous integrity
  • promote normal vascular tone
  • ease the effects of heavy exercise
  • support health peripheral circulation
  • support and maintain healthy fluid levels

Scan_Pic0002ANDROGRAPHIS — is especially supportive of the immune system during acute infections. Medi-Herb has an effective product called Andrographis Complex which is a combination of Andrographis, Echinacea root and Holy Basil leaf. Together they work to:

  • enhance immune system function
  • support healthy respiratory function
  • support and maintain normal body temperature within a normal range
  • promote healthy liver function
  • support health immune response following stress, sudden changes in weather or temperature
  • encourage adaptive response to occasional everyday stress

ASTRAGALUS — is a great companion to Andrographis in that it supports the immune system during chronic infection and auto-immune conditions.  Medi-Herb combines Astragalus root, Echinacea root and Eleuthero root in their Astragalus Complex. Together these herbs work to:

  • enhance immune system function
  • maintain feeling of general well-being
  • assist the body during convalescence
  • facilitate the body’s normal response to occasional stress
  • promotes a healthy response to environmental stress.
  • Caution: Contraindicated in known allergy to plants of the daisy family. Discontinue during an acute infection or fever.

Cat's ClawCAT’S CLAW — is an herb for the intestinal flora. I use it with yeast infection for its support to the immune system in the intestinal tract where the largest portion of the immune system operates. Medi-Herb combines Cat’s Claw inner stem bark, Pau d’Arco stem bark and Echinacea root in their Cat’s Claw Complex. Together these herbs and the compounds within them help to:

  • enhance immune system function
  • support respiratory system health
  • maintain healthy mucous membranes
  • promote healthy bowel flora
  • regulate bowel function
  • support and maintain healthy blood
  • provide antioxidant protection
  • promote healthy response to environmental stresses

Pleurisy rootPLEURISY ROOT — is a great herb for bronchial conditions such as bronchitis and acute or chronic cough. Medi-Herb combines several herbs together in their Broncafect to give powerful support to the bronchial tubes: Licorice root, Pleurisy root, Echinacea root, White Horehound herb, Thyme essential oil, and Ginger.  Together these herbs and essential oils help to:

  • support health respiratory tract function
  • maintain healthy mucosal tissue
  • support normal mucous flow
  • support the body’s natural ability to break up respiratory secretions
  • support the body’s normal cough reflex
  • encourage a healthy environment to help maintain normal respiratory flora
  • enhance immune system function
  • promote healthy white blood cells
  • promote healthy throat tissue
  • assist the body in maintaining normal body temperature within normal range
  • promote the body’s normal resistance function
  • CAUTION: Licorice root’s inclusion in Broncafect makes it contraindicated in high blood pressure, edema, (water retention), congestive heart failure, low blood potassium, pregnancy and lactation. Pleurisy root alone is not contraindicated in the conditions mentioned.

Mullen LeafMULLEN LEAF — also known as “lamb’s ears,” is a mucous removing herb.  Medi-Herb combines Mullen Leaf with five other herbs in ResCo that work together in removing mucous from the lungs and sinuses. They are Licorice root, Euphorbia, Grinellia, Ginger, and Fennel. These key phytochemicals and other compounds within this herbal formulation work to:

  • support healthy mucous membranes within the respiratory tract
  • encourage healthy removal of mucous
  • help maintain throat health
  • support healthy respiratory function
  • assist in maintaining healthy airway passages
  • support the body’s normal cough reflex
  • encourage normal secretion removal from the respiratory system
  • promote the body’s normal resistance function
  • CAUTION: Licorice root’s inclusion in ResCo makes it contraindicated in high blood pressure, edema, (water retention), congestive heart failure, low blood potassium, pregnancy and lactation. Mullen Leaf alone is not contraindicated in the conditions mentioned.

Golden SealGOLDEN SEAL ROOT — The herb of choice for the mucous membranes. Medi-Herb’s Golden Seal contain alkaloids (especially hydrastine and berberine) and other phytochemicals that work together to:

  • help maintain healthy mucous membranes
  • cleanse the gastrointestinal tract
  • assist in maintaining healthy breathing passages to support free and clear breathing
  • help maintain healthy mucus function
  • stimulate digestion
  • support the normal production and flow of bile
  • help support the body’s response to environmental stress
  • CAUTION: Contraindicated in pregnancy, lactation and high blood pressure.

ARE HERBS DANGEROUS?

Not nearly as dangerous as drugs — both prescribed and so-called “recreational.” We don’t hear about people dying from an overdose of or “complications” from herbs or nutritional supplements.  It is drugs that kill people. There are some precautions to take where herbs may interfere with medications. St. John’s Wort is a good example. It will neutralize and destroy all drugs as they are processed in the liver. That’s why St. John’s Wort is such an effective liver detoxifying herb, and why you don’t want to take it while on vital medications. It’s also a powerful anti-viral agent. However, there are relatively few contraindications and fewer negative side effects taking herbs and nutritional supplements.

There are too many herbs to review in a blog such this. Some are best used under professional supervision. Chaparral is one such herb that is so powerful as an antimicrobial and immunostimulant that it should be used only on a short term basis, 10-14 days in most cases, and in cycles of two week on and two weeks off. People with pre-existing kidney and liver diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis should not take Chaparral in large dosages and then only with professional supervision.

SAFE FOR THE GUT FLORA

As mentioned in an earlier post, the use of antibiotics will often destroy the beneficial bacteria in the GI tract. Probiotics should be taken while dosing with oral antibiotics to replace the friendly bacteria that are being destroyed. Natural antimicrobial herbs do not harm the intestinal flora, and in most cases help to bring about a balance.

MEDICAL IGNORANCE OF HERBS

Your medical doctor will usually ask you to discontinue taking herbs if he or she is not well informed and educated in their uses and contraindications, and that is very wise. Medical doctors study pharmaceuticals in medical school, not nutritional and herbal therapies. Some herbs do have potential interactions with prescription drugs, most at a low level of risk. Medi-Herb provides its doctors with ample information and quick-reference charts to guide them in prescribing herbs and their dosages. It is always best to consult with an herbalist or eclectic (alternative) practitioner about the possible interactions of herbs with any prescription medications you may be taking.

WILL HERBS EVER REPLACE PHARMACEUTICALS ?

Eventually, but not in my lifetime. I believe we will soon be forced to abandon antibiotic dosing simply because it will become increasingly ineffective against the super-bugs antibiotic overuse is creating — and not only in our health care system but in our agricultural practices as well. I am obviously enthused about the potential Living Medicines have in offering alternatives to pharmaceuticals. Currently, we humans are not healthy enough in general to abandon our dependence upon prescription drugs.  Therefore it is the better course of wisdom to use nutritional and herbal therapies as “integrative” therapies rather than as “alternatives” to drug interventions. The word “alternative,” as I use it in my practice and writings, is not meant to be construed as “instead of.” So, I would caution my readers to align with my way of viewing alternative healthcare as an “integrative” methodology in the current pharmaceutical-dominated health care system.  In most instances, alternative therapies such as nutritional supplements and herbs actually help prescribed medications work better and more safely in the body.  They are second only to the placebo and prayer.

I trust you have benefited from these posts on Living Medicines Vs Pharmaceuticals. This post will conclude this series of considerations. Until my next post, then. . .

Here’s to your health and natural healing.

Anthony Palombo, DC

Visit my HealingTones.org blog for inspiring articles. Current theme is “Golden Age and Golden Race.”

I JUST REACHED 51,000 VIEWS OF MY BLOG!  36,000 OF MY HEALING TONES BLOG!

 

CAUTION: Herbs are powerful natural medicines and should not be used indiscriminately. None of the above information should be construed to diagnose or treat any disease nor to preclude sensible medical care and professional supervision. Medi-Herb and Standard Process products are only available through licensed physicians and certified healthcare practitioners and should only be used under the supervision of such. The intention of the author of this blog is to provide information only about natural alternative and integrative medicines. However, it is left to the sole discretion of the reader to determine if the considerations or suggestions included herein are appropriate for his or her health condition and/or needs.

Reference Sources: MEDI-HERB Product Catalog put out by master herbalist Dr. Kerry Bone; Herbal Formulas for Clinical Practice by Nicholas Weed, D.C., Herbalist and owner of Weed Botanical Company, Wimberley, Texas.

Living Medicine Vs Pharmaceuticals, part 3: Herbs that Cure

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When you use a living medicine and get well, you feel that the world is alive and aware and wants to help you. People often talk about saving the Earth, but how many times have you experienced the Earth saving you?

My Chorale PicI’ve been sharing an interview with herbalist Stephen Buhner in THE SUN magazine on the efficacy of herbal medicine and the dangers of placing our healthcare system in the hands of the pharmaceutical industry, which the Medical profession relies entirely on when it comes to prescribing chemical drugs to relieve the symptoms of disease. While drugs do relieve symptoms – the reason people go to doctors in the first place – they do not effect a cure. They’re not designed to. Besides making huge profits for the Big Pharma, drugs are designed to relieve pain and mask symptoms — a purpose that has great meaning and usefulness in a hospice care facility but little if any meaning and value in a facility that claims to render “health care.” Herbs, on the other hand, are designed by Mother Nature to effect a cure. The main requirement, however, is patience on the part of the patient. (Pun intended.)

Herbs do not cure. Rather they give the body living medicine the body can work with to cure itself of disease. It is the inborn Intelligence of the body, of course, that directs the healing process–Life. And Life works within the time frame of its own wisdom and cycles. Drugs interfere with those cycles by nullifying the symptoms of pain and malfunction that trigger the healing process. Herbs facilitate the healing process. It just takes time.

For example, anti-inflammatory drugs reduce the inflammation in tissues and joints that, for one thing, stop us from doing what is damaging the tissues and joints. We won’t do what hurts. That’s the body’s wisdom at work, which we defeat when we take pain killers.  The other and main thing, however, is that inflammation is the first and initiating phase of the healing process. When you nullify this phase, you stop the repair process of the damaged tissue, which means you’ll never experience healing as long as you’re taking Ibuprofen or Tylenol or any number of other pain killers. It’s that simple.  Stephen Buhner tells his personal story working with herbs.

Ahuja: What was your first experience with herbal medicine?

Buhner: When I was thirty-four, I became quite ill with severe abdominal cramping. The doctors didn’t know what it was. I met a local herbalist, and she mentioned that a certain plant growing in the forest around my house was good for my condition. The doctors wanted to do exploratory surgery, but instead I ate some of the plant. The pain was about half as severe the next time it happened, and the next time about half again, until finally it just went away. After that, I began to take control over my own health.

Ahuja: What was the plant?

Buhner: It was a perennial herb called osha. I just dug up the root and began eating it. It’s got a spicy, celery-like taste. Not only did I feel my body getting better, but I could feel, inside, some living entity that cared about me. It’s difficult to explain, because it’s not something we generally talk about in the West. When you use a living medicine and get well, you feel that the world is alive and aware and wants to help you. People often talk about saving the Earth, but how many times have you experienced the Earth saving you?

HERBAL MEDICINES AND THEIR HEALING GIFTS

Here are a few herbal medicines with which I am familiar:

BoswelliaBOSWELLIA – is a natural anti-inflammatory that does not interfere with the healing and repair process. It rather helps it work faster. It is especially effective in the intestines when they become irritable. Cases in point are IBS, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s Disease. I use Boswellia Complex by MediHerb and Standard Process Labs, which is a synergistic combination of Boswellia gum, Celery seed,  Ginger, and Tumeric.  These and other compounds work together to:

  • Support the normal function of the kidneys to clear acidic waste products effectively, like uric acid that causes gout.
  • Maintain and support healthy joints.
  • Promote the body’s normal resistance function.
  • Support healthy circulation.
  • Support healthy response to environmental stresses.
  • Provide antioxidant protection.

Scan_Pic0005ECHINACEA – here is an herb for the immune system, and its healing gift lies primarily in its root and less in its foliage.  This herb does not stimulate or activate the immune system, as is commonly thought, but rather acts as a modulator to the immune system, regulating its response to various stress needs in the body. In the case of infection, it up-regulates the immune response and boosts the white cell count. In the case of autoimmune disease, it down-regulates the immune system. As with all systems in the body, balance is the key to healthy function.

Master Herbalist Dr. Kerry Bone of MediHerb has thoroughly researched this herb and here is what we now know about Echinacea:

  • Echinacea is both misunderstood and underestimated. There are many Echinacea products available which differ according to species, plant part, quality markers and dosages. The wide variety of products available is why there is controversy surrounding Echinacea and its effectiveness.
  • Echinacea is commonly thought of as an herb for winter season stresses and only for short-term use. Kerry Bone’s applications for Echinacea are much broader than this and you may wonder why this is. Kerry has spent many years both researching and prescribing Echinacea for thousands of patients. His passion for Echinacea led to the MediHerb research project and a greater understanding of Echinacea and how it works. For full details of MediHerb’s Research visit mediherb.com and search for The MediHerb Echinacea Research Story on the Echinacea – A New Understanding page.
  • The research results validate the traditional wisdom of Echinacea, and that is to achieve good clinical results you must use only a root preparation with high levels of alkylamides. An important aspect of any herb, or nutrient for that matter, is its bioavailability. Echinacea angustifolia and E purpurea contain high levels of alkylamides which are easily absorbed in the body.
  • MediHerb’s Echinacea Premium is the best Echinacea product on the market because of its high levels of alkylamides. You can tell if the Echinacea product you are taking is derived from the root by how it imparts a persistent tingling sensation on your tongue.
  • Daily dosage with Echinacea Premium (1 a day) will help keep your immune system balanced and ready to respond to the stress needs of the body.

BacopaBACOPA HERB – helps in the retention of memory. I have had students taking Bacopa while listening to lectures and studying for exams. This helped them retain what they were hearing and reading. Then, when exam time came along, they would switch to Ginkgo Biloba, which helps in memory recall.  MediHerb’s Bacopa Complex combines the herbs Bacopa, Schisandra, Eleuthero and essential oil of Rosemary. These herbs contribute key phytochemicals that combine with many other compounds to:

  • Enhance mental clarity and support cognitive function.
  • Support normal memory function.
  • Support physical endurance.
  • Ease the effects of temporary and occasional environmental stress.
  • Nourish the nervous system.

Ginkgo BilobaGINKGO BILOBA – helps in memory recall and has a variety of healthy benefits.  MediHerb’s Ginkgo Forte contains flavonoids, terpene lactones (including ginkgolides and bilobalide) and other phytochemicals that work synergistically to:

  • Support memory and cognition.
  • Promote alertness and mental clarity.
  • Help support healthy mental function.
  • Support good health in older adults.
  • Promote healthy circulation to the brain and peripheral areas of the body which is important for the delivery of oxygen and vital nutrients.
  • Support a healthy cardiovascular system.
  • Support and encourage healthy blood.
  • Provide antioxidant support to help protect nerve cells and other tissues.
  • Support normal hearing.
  • Support eye health.
  • Beneficially modulate cortisol during periods of stress.
  • Reduce the congestive symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

GYMNEMA SYLVESTRE – is the herb of choice for diabetics in Australia, which many folks use exclusively to regulate their blood sugar. It literally nullifies the sweetness in sugar. When you put a little bit of Gymnema tincture into your mouth, or suck on a tablet, you will not be able to taste the sweetness in candy for several minutes. You will taste the flavor of a mint, but not its sweetness.  MediHerb’s Gymnema 4g tablet and its Gymnema 1:1 tincture deliver a powerful dose of this amazing sugar-destroying herb, which is effective in diabetic and hypoglycemic conditions alike. The complex mixture of saponins (gymnemic acids) and other compounds work together to:

  • Maintain healthy blood sugar levels when combined with a balanced diet.
  • Maintain normal cholesterol levels in a normal range.
  • Help support normal cravings for sugar in the diet.

I will continue sharing information about popular herbs and their benefits in my next post in two weeks. Until then, here’s to your health and natural healing.

Anthony Palombo, DC

CAUTION: Herbs are powerful natural medicines and should not be used indiscriminately. None of the above information should be construed to diagnose or treat any disease nor to preclude sensible medical care and professional supervision. Medi-Herb and Standard Process products are only available through licensed physicians and certified healthcare professionals and should only be used under the supervision of an certified herbalist or healthcare practitioner.

Visit my HealingTones.org blog for an interesting series of articles about the Golden Age of Aquarius.

Living Medicines Vs Pharmaceuticals, part 2: Healing Herbs

“When you use a living medicine and get well, you feel that the world is alive and aware and wants to help you. People often talk about saving the Earth, but how many times have you experienced the Earth saving you?”

Healing Herbs
Stephen BuhnerI find it interesting that toxic plants often move into damaged landscapes. Some specimens are harmful to cattle or sheep who graze the land. Others interfere with industrial agriculture or threaten people. They all have the same purpose: stopping the source of the damage so that the landscape can regenerate itself. —Stephen Buhner

My Chorale PicTo heal means to make whole again that which has been fractured or fragmented. What Stephen Buhner describes above about “toxic plants” moving in where landscapes have been damaged speaks to the intelligence of healing herbs. These botanical plants have a living, functioning intelligence. As part of our Mother Earth from which our physical bodies arise, their energetic fields are connected to our energetic fields by way of which they speak to us. When we give them our attention, ask them the right questions, and then listen to their answers — which may come in the form of an attraction toward them, or even an aversion — they reach out to help us with their healing essences.

We’ve all had the experience, when out in Nature, of being attracted toward certain plants and flowers. Could that attraction and repelling be telling us something about the gift of healing being offered to us by the plants and flowers?  Of course, some plants warn us to stay away from them, such as poison ivy or poison oak, if we have an allergic condition.

I love the way Stephen Buhner goes about introducing his clients to herbs in this interview by Akshay Ahuja in the December, 2014 issue of The SUN magazine.

Ahuja: How do you go about treating patients as an herbalist? 

Buhner: It’s a relationship, not a technique. My clients often feel lost and alone in their suffering. They need human companionship and also a sense of companionship with the living world. If I can, I’ll take them into the woods and introduce them to the plant that will be helping them. 

In my book “The Lost Language of Plants” I tell the story of a twenty-eight-year-old woman who was going through a messy divorce. Her periods were extremely irregular, with heavy cramping and bleeding, and her hands were always cold. I could see that her whole body was closed off, curled in on itself. Her fingernails were chewed back deeply, as if she were eating herself alive. 

I told her there was a plant I thought she should meet. We went for a walk through a pine forest, and when she saw the plant at the edge of a stream, a kind of force drew the woman and the plant together. The plant was Angelica, which has been used for thousands of years to help treat menstrual cramping. She spent a long time with it, then said a prayer and asked for help, and then we went to look for just the right Angelica. When we found it, she dug up the root, which has a beautiful smell. On the walk back she held it close to her. She was already carrying herself differently. The healing had started. 

She took a tincture made from the root, and within a month her period had normalized.

HERBS GROW WHERE THEY ARE MOST NEEDED

We are more connected to our immediate environment than we may be aware. I am convinced that many of the viruses and bacterial infections we encounter are an integral part of our local habitat — unless they are transported by travelers from other parts of the world, as was the case with the Ebola virus.  It’s common knowledge as well that for every disease and ailment there’s a plant remedy in the botanical world. I would be curious to know what kind of herbs are growing in that part of Africa where the Ebola virus erupted. I am equally as curious to know what kind of herbs grow abundantly in my neck of the woods. Buhner addresses this subject in the interview:

Ahuja: Many of the plants in Herbal Antibiotics aren’t native to North America, Do you think people should look first to the plants around them for medicine?

Buhner: The book was written to offer alternatives to people who might die of a resistant infection, so I wanted to list anything they could reliably use in that circumstance. Still, many natural antibiotics do grow in the United States. I live in the Southwestern desert, and Bidens grows all around our house. It’s invasive. Sida grows along the Gulf Coast, and some Sida species grow in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They’re all considered invasive. In fact, the most potent medicines for emerging infections tend to be invasive botanicals that people are busy trying to eradicate.

These invasive plants don’t move into a region for no reason. Take, for example, the berberine-containing plant Phellodendron. Berberine-containing plants are used to treat parasites and infections from yeast, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Goldenseal was probably the most potent berberine plant in the U.S. until it was harvested to near extinction in the late 1800s. Phellodendron, which is a massive tree,is invasive in exactly the same range that goldenseal was removed from. And if you cut just one branch, you’ve got enough berberine
plant to last a year.

I’ve found that if people are ill, the plants they need are almost always growing in their vicinity. I’ve watched plant populations change around me in places I’ve lived for thirty-some years, and they seem to shift in response to changes in my own disease complexes. This sounds airy-fairy to the Western reductive mind-set, but people have been commenting on it since Hippocrates. Plant populations rise and fall according to the needs of the ecosystem in which they grow, and that includes the animal life there, which includes us.

Ahuja: Yet we act to remove invasive plants from ecosystems.

Buhner: Yes, these plants are seen as alien invaders…. Its not understood that dandelion and burdock and a host of other common plants are non-natives that moved in and established a balance with local ecosystems, or that many of the plants targeted for eradication happen to be effective against the exact diseases that local people are contracting. Japanese knotweed is invasive all up and down the East Coast, and its root is the most specific medicine there is for the treatment of Lyme disease. Theres a Lonicera species a honeysuckle that reduces mosquito egglaying wherever it grows. The mosquitoes that it discourages happen to carry dengue fever and a number of other viruses that cause encephalitis – inflammation of the brain. And it turns out that the plant is also a treatment for inflammation in the central nervous system.When plants move into an ecosystem, they do so because the ecosystem has been disrupted. The problem is that people dont ask, Why is this plant here?

Buhner offers suggestions on treating specific health conditions which I thought my readers would find helpful.

Aruja: My father is around sixty. I dont think he could imagine being without his daily blood-pressure pills. What are some alternative treatments for his condition? 

Buhner: Regular fasting will lower blood pressure and keep it low. Certain kinds of simple, focused meditation will lower it. And many herbs, such as hawthorn and garlic, will do the same.

Ahuja: Have you worked much with cancer? 

Buhner: I havent. The only type I have regularly treated is skin cancer, usually on the face. I learned the use of a traditional herb for it from a Mexican curandera many years ago. The root of Swertia radiata also known as monument plant or green gentian – is finely powdered, then mixed with Vaseline (nothing else will do) and applied to the cancer. Its left covered for three days. Once the bandage is removed, the cancer generally comes with it or lifts off with minimal effort. I have never had that treatment fail. It is easy, efficient, and noninvasive. . . . 

I apologize for the lengthy excerpts, but I wanted to share with you the spirit and energy of the interview as well as the content, which sometimes direct quotes best convey.  We will explore some of the more specific uses of healing herbs in the next post. Until then, here’s to your health and haling . . . naturally!

Anthony Palombo, DC

Visit my HealingTones.org blog for inspiring articles on various topics. Current theme is “Golden Age and Golden Race.”

Also visit Laurence Layne’s Herb Shop online at HerbShop.HealingWatersClinic.com for great information about herbs along with easy ordering of products.

Credits: The picture above is by Roger Davies and is used in the article in The SUN which I am referencing.

CAUTION: Herbs are powerful natural medicines and should not be used indiscriminately. None of the above information should be construed to diagnose or treat any disease nor to preclude sensible medical care and professional supervision. Medi-Herb and Standard Process products are only available through licensed physicians and certified healthcare professionals and should only be used under the supervision of an certified herbalist or healthcare practitioner.

Living Medicine Vs Pharmaceuticals, part 1: The Antibiotic Crisis

Stephen BuhnerPhysicians continue to utilize antibiotics without much thought. We focus on the misuse of painkillers, when the most dangerous thing we do is overuse antibiotics. Resistant bacteria are a more severe problem for the survival of this civilization than oil depletion, global warming, topsoil erosion, and water scarcity. —Stephen Buhner

“Stephen Harrod Buhner On Plant Intelligence, Natural Healing, And The Trouble With Pharmaceuticals”

My Chorale Pic

The December issue of SUN magazine carried an insightful, though sobering, interview with an herbalist that I thought would be an inspiring and deeply meaningful article to review and share in my Health Light Newsletter blog.  The interview is by Akshay Ahuja, writer for the SUN and production manager for Ploughshares, an organization that works with churches, governments and civil societies, in Canada and abroad, to advance policies and actions to prevent war and armed violence and build peace.

Stephen Buhner was born in 1952 in the Midwest where he was introduced to his healing ministry through his great-grandfather, a country physician in rural Indiana.  At the age of sixteen he left home to attend college in California. From there he traveled and settled in the high mountains of Colorado, where he built a “turn-of-the-century cabin that he lived in for four years.” His path to becoming an herbalist started out with a personal healing of severe abdominal cramps with the perennial herb osha root.  His encounter with this herb was more than remedial and had a spiritual and vital quality to is, as he recalls in the interview.  He currently lives in Silver City, New Mexico.

I just dug up the root and began eating it. It’s got a spicy, celery-like taster. Not only did I feel my body getting better, but I could feel, inside, some living entity that cared for me.  It’s difficult to explain, because it’s not something we generally talk about in the West. When you use a living medicine and get well, you feel that the world is alive and aware and wants to help you. People often talk about saving the Earth, but how many times have you experienced the Earth saving you?

I love this man’s insight into the natural botanical world of herbs and his thoughtful perspectives on both the natural healing and modern medical models. He covers a lot of territory, so it may take a couple of posts to do the interview justice. This is, I feel, a very timely and important mile-stone article.

Let’s start with the heart of his message: the overuse of antibiotics that has resulted in the evolution of bacteria into “superbugs.”  To gain a perspective on how this has come about, we need to consider the history and evolution of our medical system. Buhner, who has spent his entire life exploring herbal medicine and has published several books on this and related topics, gives some very thoughtful consideration to this in the interview, which can best be presented in his own words. In his 1999 book “Herbal Antibiotics” he speaks to the heart of the “flaws” of what he calls “technological medicine.”

“By declaring war on bacteria,” he writes, “ we declared war on the underlying living structure of the planet.” Buhner maintains that, through indiscriminate use of antibiotics, we have created “superbugs” with few effective pharmaceutical treatments, wreaking havoc in hospitals and making future pandemics likely.

Asked what is wrong with the medical system in the USA, Bunher gives a very interesting synopsis of its relatively brief history, starting at the close of the nineteenth century when homeopaths were plentiful and allopaths were fewer and the poorest of the various groups of physicians.  The discovery of penicillin changed all that.

Allopathic physicians argued that their training was based on science and was thus more legitimate than other medical traditions and would provide safer interventions. With a lot of lobbying, they managed to get control over medical practice and have the other approaches outlawed. After the discovery of penicillin in the 1920’s, antibiotics became a primary aspect of allopathic practice. The drugs were so effective against previously difficult-to-treat problems, such as infections in burn patients, that Western cultures completely embraced allopathic healing. In 1942 the entire worlds supply of penicillin was 8.5 gallons about seventy pounds. By 1999 the production of antibiotics in the U.S. alone reached 40 million pounds per year.

Unfortunately medical researchersbeliefs about bacteria were very wrong. Researchers said it would take roughly a million years for bacteria to develop widespread resistance to antibiotics through spontaneous mutations. They assumed bacteria were stupid, when in reality bacteria are highly sentient. They communicate by means of a sophisticated language – as sophisticated as ours. They recognize their kin. They protect their offspring. They create chemicals designed to produce specific outcomes in living systems, which certainly fits any definition of tool-making.

Weve tended to view bacteria as a collection of single-celled entities, but when many of them join together, its more proper to look at them as a swarm intelligence. And complex organisms such as plants, animals, and insects are, in essence, communities of bacteria.

Ahuja: How does bacterial resistance challenge the current medical model?

Buhner: Since the end of World War II, the medical establishment has been promising that we are heading for some sort of disease-free future in which we will live to be 120 and never get sick. They almost imply that they can cure death. Scientists’ inability to predict the bacterial response undermines the entire world view that the allopaths disseminated – and still disseminate – about disease and the nature of the world around them. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that, in 2011, 722,000 people picked up infections in hospitals. About 75,000 of those patients died during their hospitalizations. And some sources give a much higher figure for annual deaths from hospital-acquired infections.

The allopaths’ lock on medical practice, which they insisted would create safer outcomes for the public, has not done so. All it has done is give one orientation toward healing a virtual monopoly on practice.

Ahuja: How would you treat a resistant infection with herbs?

Buhner: One woman who had undergone multiple antibiotic regimens over several years for a resistant staph infection (MRSA) came to me for help. She was about to lose her foot to the disease. It took a month to turn her condition around using an African herb called Cryptolepis sanguinolenta. Commonly used to treat malaria, it is also a broad-spectrum, systemic antibacterial with no side effects – at least, after twelve years of use, I have seen none.

Vancomycin is the antibiotic often used for staph infections. Besides being frequently ineffective, it has a long list of side effects. In general, herbal medicines have fewer or no side effects. They are composed of hundreds of synergistic compounds, whereas pharmaceuticals have just one compound, or perhaps a few. We have been at this antibiotic business only a century or so. Bacteria have been around for 3.5 billion years:

This begs the question, will not bacteria eventually become resistant to plant medicines? I love Buhner’s answer.

Buhner: With a pharmaceutical, the bacteria analyze the single compound and generate solutions to it, which they then pass on to other bacteria. Plants, on the other hand, generate multiple compounds that deactivate resistance mechanisms in the bacteria and enhance the activity of the plant’s natural antibacterials. Bacteria cannot easily counteract that kind of complexity. Also, plants aren’t trying to kill all the bacteria on Earth. They merely want to create a balance in which the plants and bacteria set limits on each other’s behavior.

Ahuja: There seems to be a general view that herbal medicine is fine for coughs and colds, but when something gets serious, you go to a conventional doctor.

Buhner: The pharmaceutical companies’ advertising campaigns are very good. We have been trained to think of technological medicine as the only reliable type and other approaches as outdated remnants of a prescientific age. Yet the majority of people I have met don’t much like doctors or hospitals. The one thing modern medicine is good at is trauma. If I get hit by a car, I will go to a hospital. But other than antibiotics and some surgeries, hospitals have little they can offer to cure disease. They can only address the symptoms.

Pharmaceutical companies are in business to make as much money as they can. They try to develop drugs you have to take for years and years, such as medicines for high blood pressure or depression. You don’t get well; you just keep taking the drug.

Buhner then cites an example of herbal practice in Africa, where the people can’t afford Western drugs and the infrastructure there doesn’t support drug manufacturing.  Local healers in Nigeria, for example, were asked what herbs they were using. Researchers then took the seeds from the best and most effective herbs and gave them to the people so they could grow their own plant herbs. This had a very empowering impact upon the people, not to mention its ecological friendliness.

I will continue sharing Stephen Buhner’s perspectives in the next post. I will close this post with words of a colleague in the healing field. “Nothing is wrong. Everything matters.” Allopathic medicine has played an important role in healthcare and continues to play a crucial role in the emergency room of our hospitals. On the other hand, pharmaceutical medicine’s days are numbered. Already pharmaceutical companies are getting out of the antibiotic business for two reasons. One, they don’t make a lot of money with the drug’s short-term usage. Two, “they know antibiotics are going to fail, and they don’t want to be the one holding the bag when they do.” According to Buhner’s latest information, the U.S. Government is taking over antibiotic research and production and will take all the blame when it crashes, and crash it will. “As David Livermore, the top antibiotic resistance researcher in Britain, put it, “It is naive to think we can win.”◊

Until my next post, here’s to your health and prosperity throughout the coming New Year.

Anthony Palombo, D.C.

Visit my HealthTones.org blog for more exploratory articles in the field of healing and transformation.