Opinion: One Woman's Conversion to Medicinal Herbs

Viewpoints to consider: What do healing herbs lose in science, and how do natural home remedies maximize the wide-ranging benefits of herbs?


| May/June 1997


Wholeness in plants and people 

"The scientific basis of medicine is much weaker than most patients or even physicians realize, and this leads to treatment based on uncer­tainty,” former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop wrote in a 1992 editorial about health-care reform.

This weakness is seldom acknowledged by those who control the juggernaut of the medical world. Nor is ­scientific uncertainty accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in judging the efficacy of plant medicines. But is scientific validation a prerequisite for those of us who want to use herbs for our health? I’m skeptical. Re­searchers in the laboratory often take a jigsaw approach, reducing a plant to its smallest constituents, then choosing only the most active to investigate. I believe this approach is conceptually flawed.

In my universe, every plant is a symphony. You can’t throw away any notes without the risk of creating a ­cacophony. When only a plant’s most active ingredients are used, some essential notes are lost. Plants may contain buffering agents and synergistic elements that can make the whole plant—or concentrated extracts of its fruits, flowers, leaves, stems, or roots—safer or more powerful than one or two constituents. Echinacea and valerian are examples of plants that work better as whole plants or as plant parts than as active ingredients separated out of the whole.



Using my own herbs for medicine adds harmony to my life. Each fall I make an extract of echinacea roots by steeping them in vodka or other alcohol. Echinacea is an immune booster that keeps colds and flu at bay. I do the same with valerian, a sedative that helps me sleep after a stressful day. I dry chamomile flowers, which smell and taste wonderful, then combine them with dried lemon balm for a snooze tea. I use calendula, comfrey, and chamomile to make a salve that soothes chapped skin. My vivid red homemade St.-John’s-wort oil works great on ­bruises. I add nutrition to salads when I toss in the violet leaves of early spring and purslane later in the season.

These are solutions to minor problems, but they contribute a lot to my health. I’m convinced that my herbs have kept me free of major ­medical problems for years—no small feat as I’m seventy-three. Oh, I’m not self-sufficient: I still buy vitamins and extracts of herbs that I can’t grow, such as ginkgo for my memory and saw ­palmetto for my husband’s prostate. I also suspect that the very act of walking out into fresh air to tend and harvest my own herbs adds to their power to heal. They are more vital, to me, than plant constituents isolated in a laboratory.







mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE









Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265