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

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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.”

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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.

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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”

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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.