Herbal Medicine

Why use herbs?

Herbs and plants are natural and medicinal substances that withstand sweeps in climate and environment, and continue to thrive. They exert these same powers in our bodies by boosting energy, dredging the blood circulation to remove toxins while at the same time preserving healthy tissue. In my mind, nothing can compare to the efficacy and value of herbal medicines.

The Chinese materia medica by Dan Bensky lists over 400 medicinal herbs that includes botanical identifiers as well as uniquely traditional medicine identifiers such as taste, temperature, and channel. Pharmacological studies of each individual herb and also herbs in formulas provide clinical data for ways in which herbs act upon various body tissues and structures.

Using herbs for prevention of illness is a common traditional practice. For example, the formula Jade Windscreen, Yu Ping Feng San, is taken preceding the season when allergies are problematic, i.e., taken 3 weeks in the winter in preparation for spring allergy season, to reduce the severity and frequency of allergies.

For acute and chronic conditions, herbs can halt symptoms very quickly and lower risk of recurrence or escalating illness. There are numerous digestive formulas that can assist in managing bowel dysfunction, gastritis, and more. Respiratory formulas can ease congestion, facilitate breathing, and eliminate virus.

Herbal use is growing in popularity. A recent survey conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition shows that over 73 percent of Americans use dietary supplements. Of these, herbals and botanicals are used by approximately 39 percent of all adults, and is growing (CRN survey, 2019).

This growth undoubtedly has to do with the increasing endorsement of herbs by physicians, also a relatively recent phenomenon. Many European journals (especially German medical journals not widely read by Americans) have supported the use of herbs for decades, and at this time, Germany is ahead of the game.

In the U.S. progress has not been as rapid. As one author states, there has been a “small but steady stream of articles about the irresponsible use of herbs…” (Castleman & Hendler, 1995, p. 4) and that “most American doctors are unfamiliar with the vast scientific literature demonstrating herbs’ safety and effectiveness for an enormous number of ills” (Castleman & Hendler, 1995, p. 4).

Fortunately, this is changing as more studies are now making their way into American medical journals. The internet and journal databases such as Science Direct and Pubmed are some popular resources that allow the sharing of international clinical studies, as well as articles and publications, sourced from university and esteemed experts in their fields.

References

Castleman, M. & Hendler, S. (1995). The Healing Herbs: The ultimate guide to the curative power of nature’s medicines. New York: Bantam Books.

Dietary Supplement Use Reaches All-Time High [Council for Responsible Nutrition survey]. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.crnusa.org/newsroom/dietary-supplement-use- reaches-all-time-high-available-purchase-consumer-survey-reaffirms

sharing on herbal medicines

I enjoy writing about herbal medicine because I so strongly believe it is important to health, and offers so much that can repair, restore, and revitalize us. Because I love researching herbs. I started writing on HubPages a few years ago to practice my “chops” as a writer. Once I got a few articles published, I was able to land an actual writing job (part time, I am more of a contributor than writer) with the Herbal Academy in Bedford, MA, a prestigious (well, I think so anyway!!) online herbal program that offers beginner and advanced herbal training.

Below are contributions I have written that I hope can shed some light about the value of herbal medicine, and its value to health. All of the snippets below provide a brief summary of the topic, with links to the full article at the bottom.

Thanks for reading!!

🌻 Michelle Thelen, L.Ac. MSTOM

Berberine — is an isolated constituent found in the roots and rhizomes of some herbs.

Its use as a supplement has been lauded by both western medicine and eastern medicine practitioners. It is an alkaloid that can assist with down regulating inflammation, controlling pain, and blood sugar metabolism. The Chinese herbs huang bai (Phellodendron amurense) and huang lian (Coptidis or Coptis rhizome), two of the most powerful anti inflammatory herbs in Chinese medicine repertoire contain highly available berberine. Read more…

Mushrooms — coined quite appropriately “fantastic fungi” feed our imagination and our soul. They have been used as a medicine, a hallucinogenic, and a food for as long as man has walked the earth.

A few of the most renowned varieties are reishi, chaga, maitake, and polyporus, and each of these confer amazing healing properties. Polyporus (Polyporus sclerotium), or zhu ling, is the stem of the polypore mushroom, a native of southeastern China. It is used in prescribed herbal formulas to promote urination, thereby easing dysuria, prostatitis, and pelvic pain. Read more…

Adaptogens — help us adapt, in a nutshell. These herbs contain chemicals that mimic adrenergic hormones to prepare us for periods of increased physical activity as well as focused concentration. There are also herbs in this same category that mimic protective neurotransmitters that protect against cell damage from radiation, immune dysfunction, and other stressors.

Some examples include eleuthora, ginseng, astragalus, ashwaghanda, and schisandra, and turmeric. Read more…