Many of us have used herbs at some point in time for several reasons, whether it was the green tea we had with toast for breakfast, the herbed chicken for lunch, or for relief of that stuffy nose using a garlic herbal remedy; suffice it to say, we know deep within that “natural extracts” are good for us and their benefits, ethereal.
Perhaps our belief of this fact has become skewed overtime, or better yet shaken from its once enduring perspective as drugs take centre stage in society. More people view herbal remedies as options for minor ailments only, choosing synthetic drugs over herbs for more serious and quicker acting effects.
Herbs have been used as a powerful form of medicine spanning centuries, since the creation of man. Their honour has been spoken about in the history books from the Egyptians and Persians to the Greeks. The bible speaks of the wise men bringing treasures of gold, Frankincense and Myrrh to baby Jesus; these herbs were valued for their natural properties and used as potent medicines for both liniments and teas to treat a wide variety of sickness, as well as for incense and embalming.
Chinese medicine has a long history of using herbs and was first mentioned in the Ming Yi Za Zhu (miscellaneous records of famous physicians) as far back as 500 AD.
How did we move so far away from our natural pharmacy? Man was once confident in the knowledge that their ancient, live organic compounds are an intrinsic fit for our bodies, and are composites of our own cells? We do know that many of the drugs made today are fabrications from examples in nature, and as such are synthetic imitations; we also know that it is difficult to sell a drug labelled “herb” to consumers; therefore profit has been the primary driving force behind laboratory research dictated by pharmaceutical drug giants.
What are the more subtle advantages of herbs over drugs?
A drug is any substance, solid, liquid, or gas that changes the functions of the body in some way. This definition is similar to the function of herbal plants but with several contrasting differences.
1. Clinical benefits of Herbal extracts: pharmaceutical medicines are inorganic chemicals cultivated in laboratories which then undergo clinical trials. Often, their true negative effects are not seen until they are consumed by a wide range of patients who suffer these unfortunate results.
Herbal remedies have been tried and tested for thousands of years and various aspects have been well documented (China and Hindu), therefore we have more clinical knowledge about natural remedies and their positive effects having started since the beginning of civilization.
2. Purpose of herbal medicine vs. pharmaceuticals: The purpose of herbal plants is to procure and promote our health. The reference made earlier to Frankincense and Myrhh may be used in this analogy. These potent ancient medicines are known to activate blood circulation, relieve pain, reduce swelling and promote the growth and regeneration of tissues. They protect against heart diseases, hypertension, osteoarthritis, infertility and skin disorders.
Contrastingly, pharmaceuticals are taken only when we are ill, to relieve symptoms which work against the natural processes of the body; they are often highly toxic and as a result side-effects are a natural course of their intake.
3. Synthetic vs. organic: unlike herbal plants, synthetic medications are not living molecules and are therefore not naturally recognized, absorbed, and processed in the tissues without risks. Herbals are living synergistic compounds that enhance the function of bodily systems. They are derived from the highest energy sources with manifold health benefits.
4. Short-term vs. long-term use: pharmaceutical drugs are quick acting and recommended for short-term usage since they negatively alter the tissues of the body. Herbal medications may be taken over a lifetime when done in moderation.
We have gained tremendous insights since the advancement of science and technology; since the creation of vaccines to arrest virulent infections that have been destructive to society, and we have much to be proud of. Herbs have been just as successful and impactful, but are now misunderstood and even mistrusted; they are not given the same level of importance as drugs. Some of this mistrust comes from detractors who have the ability to sway the decisions of the people with claims that suggest anecdotal reports of poor herbal benefits and even reported maladies, rather than reporting all the successes.
We know confidently that herbs have had a long history in healing man before the era of modern medicine. Often what we cannot explain we cast aside as mystical and inconsequential. Despite this attitude many of us know that herbs have been put on the earth as gifts of nature for the health of mankind. We should put our trust in nature. Herbs are not “airy-fairy” concoctions from the new age apothecaries. They work with the chemistry of the body, not against it to force a result. Wake up to the fact that genuinely, drugs do not have your best interests at heart, only a need for your money!