The first pharmaceutical companies were not established until the late
19th century. Prior to that,
there were no effective medications available for treating everyday
ailments. People were unhealthy, and lived very short, sickly lives.
Sounds ridiculous right? The truth is,
herbal treatments have been around as long as mankind. 4000 year old Yarrow
along with a host of other medicinal herbs have been excavated in a
Neanderthal cave. Those first pharmaceutical companies chemically synthesized the compounds found in
traditional herbal cures. They then set about a deceptive media campaign
whereby they demonized these same herbal cures as being ineffective and
dangerous. This campaign was so effective that over the years, it relegated herbal
medicine to the fringes of society. As a matter of fact, according to my
Internist, Insurance companies, and Attorneys have made it virtually
illegal for them to prescribe herbal remedies. He is originally from
the Philippine Islands, and believes medicinal herbs should our
first line of defense in treating everyday maladies, but because of
new legislation, is not allowed to prescribe them. The rest of the world knows that
herbal medicine and modern medicine should be used hand in hand, but the
United States is way behind the curve.
I know a number of physicians and nurses; they
caring people who, for the most part,
just want to help; unfortunately they have been taught that modern
medicine has all of the answers. I also know numerous herbalists. I
have found the majority of them to be vehemently anti medicine. I
believe this is due to the fact that they feel marginalized, as
their life's work is trivialized by the medical community. We have
what amounts to two warring camps; each thinking they are right,
the other has nothing to offer. I am an avid outdoorsman and
naturalist. I have made use of wild edibles, and medicinal plants
for almost 40 years. Over the past couple of years I have taken
numerous classes in herbal medicine, and have acquired an extensive
library of both medical, and herbal books. They have only served to
cement my belief that herbal remedies should be our first line of
defense against common everyday maladies.
Lets separate the wheat from the
chaff; it seems to me the best indication of a country's healthcare
is to look at their life expectancy. The United States has an
average life expectancy of 78.2 years. We place 38th when compared
to other industrialized countries around the world. Even
impoverished Cuba is ranked above us at 78.3 years. Japan is number
one at 82.6, with Hong Kong right behind them at 82.2. All three of
those countries use herbal medicines in concert with modern medical
practices and treatments. It appears to me that counter to what we
have been led to believe, western medicine does not have all the
I know a Critical Care RN who has a bachelors degree
in nursing, training in advanced life saving, as well as CCRN
training. In her words, they call it "practicing" medicine for a
reason; medicine is an art not a science. When she is sick, or has a
cut, scrape, or bite, she first reaches for one of my herbal preparations.
After beginning a new exercise regime, she ended up with a large, open, bleeding, blister on each
foot. She applied an ointment made from plantain and yarrow to one
foot, while using a commercial antibiotic cream to the other. The
following day when she removed the bandages, she found that the foot
treated with our herbal ointment was no longer raw, and had begun to
heal. The other foot was still raw and open.
We must not look away from either modern medicine or traditional
herbal medicine. Each has something to offer. We must find a way
that both can work in concert to bring each of us a lifetime of good
I once had an herbalist tell me of the
importance of decanting tinctures based upon the lunar cycle. Perhaps when the medical community
stops trivializing the efficacy of herbal medicine, and herbalists
lose that hippie mentality, they can come together and our healthcare can become what it should
be, and what each of us deserves.
The Critical Care RN I mentioned had a
terminally ill patient who was transferred from a long term care
facility to her hospital ICU ward. The patient presented with
extreme bed sores. Nothing they gave her seemed to work. She wanted
nothing more than to apply my herbal healing ointment, but was not
allowed to do so because of hospital policy. I find it ridiculous
that policy will not allow a patient to be treated with something
that actually works; pharmaceutical companies have everything
I believe mankind is inextricably linked with all other living organisms.
We share a symbiotic relationship with the world around us. I further
believe that as we evolved, so did the remedy to counteract any malady we
may face. We have but to look to the flora around us for the answers. We
evolved eating wild foods. Ancient man did not just eat the mastodon; our
forbearers had an excellent knowledge of plant lore from which to
derive sustenance and excellent health.
compiled a list of what I feel are some of the most important, and widespread
medicinal plants. I chose my list based upon
for most common ailments. By keeping preparations of the herbs listed on
the medicinal herbs page,
you will have a
medicine chest that will help you deal with a wide range of maladies. It
is important to note that many
of the plants listed here, are also listed on the wild foods page. That is
because eating these plants is meant to help us ward off some of the
maladies they are used to treat. As they say, an ounce of prevention is
worth a pound of cure.
I would highly recommend taking a course in the
identification and use of medicinal plants. I would also recommend
building a library of books on the subject. There are many good ones
on the market, and some which are not so good. The first I would
recommend is a Peterson Field Guide. Eastern/Central Medicinal
Plants And Herbs. The design of the guide makes it easy for a novice
to zero in on a plant based upon its physical characteristics. If you
click on the Field Guide picture it will open a window which will
take you to Amazon.com where you can purchase this field guide. The
first medicinal plant book I ever purchased was The Natural Doctor
by Dr. H.C. A. Vogel. It contains a wealth of information, and it
wetted my appetite for further research on natural medicine.
Plants can act upon the body in many different ways. For example, some are
Demulcent, or soothing, and others may be Carminative, or gas expelling.
Here for a list of possible
Medicinal Actions and the corresponding medicinal herbs.
You can also
follow this link for a list I put together of common afflictions
and the herbal treatments I have personally seen work to treat them.
Note: The linked page is meant for informational purposes only.
It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. You
should always consult a physician or other qualified medical care