Herbal Counseling

Herbal Counseling

 Herbs are so very important for achieving and maintaining excellent health. We have a well educated staff that can help you determine which ones will work for you in your particular health situation. The following article provided by Nutritional Herbology by Mark Pederson explains how we have been impacted as a society by the use of herbs in our health care. Since the dawn of recorded history, plants have been the primary source of medicine for people throughout the world. Even today, plants are the major source of medicine in most countries. Plants which are used as medicines have been referred to as herbs for over 4,000 years by the cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean, the word herb being a derivation of “herbe” and the Latin word “herba”. filler3.jpg (10066 bytes)The science and art of using plants for healing is known as Herbology. In recent years many people have renewed an interest in the study of medicinal plants because it is based on simple concepts and because herbs are relatively inexpensive. Numerous companies have begun to market herbs and herbal products. Books have been published and distributed on the subject. Consequently, all this has resulted in a dramatic increase in herb use. According to the medical definition, medicine is anything which enters the body and alters its structure or function. Using that definition, all foods and even water and air could be considered medicines. Of course lay people do not think that way. To a lay person, the term “medicine” connotes a dangerous and probably toxic substance that must be used with extreme care and only under professional supervision. Lay people associate medicine with substance like valium and aspirin. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies herbs as foods when no claims are made that the herb will cure, treat, mitigate or prevent any disease. When medicinal claims are made for an herb, the herb is regulated as a medicine. Companies selling herbs as food cannot publish any material relating the use of their products to diseases without risking legal prosecution. Hence, herbs are sold as foods, but used as medicines. Herbs Aid the Body’s Own Natural Ability to Heal Itself In the early 1800’s, a system of herbal therapy developed by the pioneer herbalist, Samuel Thompson, was very popular. This method of herbal practice, sometimes known as the physiomedical system, considered herbs as an aid to assisting the body’s own natural ability to heal itself. Thompson considered his medicinal herbs to be of the same order as foods. In his own words, “I shall now describe the fuel which contains the fire, or life of man. This contained two things, foods and medicines (herbs): which are in harmony with each other…”: Thompson’s system focused on aiding the eliminative function of the body and regeneration of tissue. These two actions are known to most herbalists as cleansing and toning. Cleansing the body and building up the health of body systems have been major goals in much of the world’s herbal practice. Herbal therapy is entirely different than drug therapy. In drug therapy, the practitioner seeks to describe specific causes for disease and then seeks to make specific chemical changes in the body to correct the causes. For example, a doctor might view an illness as being caused by the presence of a specific microorganism in the kidney. He would then administer a drug to kill that microorganism. In herbal therapy, the practitioner views disease as a general imbalance of the body. In the case of the kidney infection, an herbalist would seek to correct this imbalance by administering three types of herbs. These include herbs which would prevent toxins from being absorbed from the bowel, herbs which would tonify and build the kidney and other related organs and herbs which would increase the discharge of toxins through the urinary tract and other eliminative organs. In other words, herbology focuses on assisting the self-healing process of the body. The herbalist’s approach is more often nutritional that medicinal. The Use of Herbs in Modern Medicine Many people feel that herbs have no real medicinal value. Herbs do have medicinal value as evidenced by the fact that from 1959-1980 one out of every four prescriptions issued in the United States was derived from an herb. When over-the-counter medications are included with prescription drugs, the percentage of drugs derived from or containing an herb rises well over fifty percent. For example, the most widely used drug in the world, aspirin, is based on the naturally occurring salicin in white willow bark. The entire class of amphetamines is based on the alkaloids found in the Chinese ephedra herb. Pseudo-ephedrine and ephedrine are the basis for most over-the-counter decongestants including Sudafed, Actifed and many others. One can even hear portions of the root word ephedra in many of the brand names. The alkaloids in golden seal root were formerly used to provide the astringent and antiseptic action in the eye drop formulas, like Murine. The bark of cascara sagrada tree is an effective laxative, with so few side effects that to date, no synthetic preparation can match it. In addition to the plant-based products used in medicine, food and cosmetics, there has been a recent revival of traditional herbal practice. Although modern medicine frequently claims that modern drugs are safer and more effective than herbs, many people find that herbs are safe and effective complements to drug medications. The Theory of Herbology Herbology, as practiced in Europe and North America, is based on the principle that if the systems (digestive, circulatory, etc.) of the human body are functioning properly, then the body will maintain or achieve optimum health. Herbalists use medicinal plants (herbs) to effect changes in body system s to allow the body to heal itself. The herbs are either ingested orally or applied externally. Most herbs in common use are mild and require long-term use to affect a change. Using herbs to obtain and maintain health embodies the concepts of preventative medicine, quality of life and increasing longevity, but in practice, this means cleansing and revitalizing body systems. This reproductionist style is dictated by an industrial society that looks upon health practitioners as mechanics that “fix what is broken”. Typically, an average person will not consider herbal therapy until traditional allopathy cannot palliate or placate him anymore. The herbalist then begins to purge the effects of the western diet and sedentary lifestyle from the body by using herbs, exercise, stress management and other lifestyle changes required to help the body heal itself. Ideal health requires a commitment to a complete lifestyle where optimum health is achieved by balancing the body, mind, and spirit. The oral ingestion of herbs is only one part of optimal health. Most negative publicity associated with herbs as alternative medicine comes not from herbal theories, but from superstitions and misunderstandings about alternative medical treatments often associated  with herbology, or from persons who have used herbs in a manner that ignores common sense. However, the recent interest in herbal therapies in the United States has been spawned by a new awareness of our pre-industrial traditions, and a renewed interest in natural sources of food and medicine. More and more people are using herbs to achieve optimal health and to prevent disease conditions than ever before. From Nutritional Herbology, By Mark Pederson