Sunday, July 21, 2013

Why Use Herbal Medicine? The Benefits Of Herbal Remedies

Herbal Medicine History

Since the first man/female, herbs have been used for healing purposes. Even as forms of medicine changed throughout the centuries, plants continued to be the mainstay of country medicine. The methods and ideas on plant healing were passed down from family to family, and within communities. Thus tribes, clans, villages, towns, sometimes entire countries, tended to have similar styles of healing. Most of these plant remedies were based on local discoveries and pass along uses, so it is always interesting to note how many plants are used in exactly the same way. Chamomile for instance, is a digestive aid through out the world.
Though most of the medical community ignores, perhaps even disdains, plant medicine as to old fashioned, plants are nonetheless the basis for some of the most effective drugs. For several thousand years the Chinese doctors used the Ma Hong plant. Later researchers extracted an alkaloid, ephedrine, from this plant. This is still used in many different ways, namely for relief of nasal congestion, bronchial coughs, and asthma. But unbeknownst to the general public, pharmaceutical firms continue to comb the more primitive places on earth to explore and define native folk medicine. They bring back various botanical specimens in the hope of discovering plants that can be successfully duplicated.
An interesting example of this continual interest in new products, and why some investigators are quickly discontinued, was described to one researcher by Dr. Vera Stecher, an international pharmaceutical researcher. When her work was brought to Malawi, Africa, Dr. Stecher met a Dutch scientist, a recent victim of a painful recurring skin cancer and although the cancer had been successfully removed several times in Switzerland, it always re-emerged on his hand. One day this Dutchman took a long motor ride to the interior of Malawi, and there on a dusty road he gave a ride to a hitchhiking tribesman. The simple act was a happy turning point in his life. The dignified African soon observed his host’s pain the way he clutched the steering wheel. With a sign he motioned the Dutchman to stop the jeep. The African then climbed out and quickly cut a large fruit from a common native tree,
With agile and skilled fingers, the tribesman applied the pulp to the Dutchman’s throbbing, aching hands. Within minutes the pain disappeared. Subsequent application of this fresh pulp not only controlled all pain, but eventually it eliminated the skin cancer this same treatment also proved effective for several Europeans who had similar skin cancers.
Dr. Stecher was naturally excited that her colleague’s personal discovery. She carried large whole fruits with her to Switzerland; her home laboratory base the first results were outstanding. In the initial studies that were conducted by friends of the doctors, they found the fruit pulp did indeed control the artificially reproduced skin cancers of laboratory animals. Unfortunately, they did not get the same results when the fruit was chemically reproduced, and all future experiments were called off. Some plants cannot be successfully duplicated, and some plants, it seems, must be used only in its raw, fresh state.
Willow bark, one of nature’s great anti-inflammatory and was used for thousands of years, even by the American Indian Tribes. But unfortunately consistent us of the bark affected the digestive system, and it became imperative that a substitute be found, or a chemical version. This duplication took over 50 years of investigation, and was solved by a clever scientist when he broke the chemical code by using the spirea plant family, instead of willow bark. He called his result aspirin, now one of the most used drugs on earth.
The history of medicine and herbs is studded with fascinating plant discoveries from primitive cultures, and some of those discoveries have changed history and medicine. Ipecac, once used in homes as an emetic to disgorge poisons, once helped control the savage dysentery that pervaded Europe. Quinine, from the tropics, saved the world from malaria. Curare arrow poison, another tropic discovery, was used to control breathing during surgery.
There are hundreds of such stories, to many to list here. Plants are effective medicine, but they aren’t the only answer for good health. I urge you to investigate the herbs and plants I write about here. Talk to a herbalist, Goggle for information. The herbs and remedies that I write about here are what I have used for myself. Even some of the vegetables we eat have healing properties and many of them started out as medicine. But again remember we are all different. Know what you are allergic to. Know what foods your system can tolerate.
I am not a certified herbalist, or medical practitioner and I make no claims to be. I only write here to pique your interest. There are thousands of books available on the subject of herbs for both culinary and medicinal use. Know the herbs and foods you are using.

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