Herbs have been used for thousands of years to heal and support the body
Doctors were beginning to view herbal remedies as old-fashioned and by the late nineteenth century dosages of medicines were standardized in synthesized drugs but required guesswork when administered in herbs. As synthetic pharmaceuticals began to dominate medical practice, some practitioners still continued to administer herbal remedies. Penicillin was discovered in 1928. The hormone cortisone was isolated in 1930. The antibiotics streptomycin and Aureomycin, a brand of chlortetracycline, were produced in 1943 and 1945, respectively.
With all the drugs being prescribed to more and more patients every year it became very clear that this was a very lucrative business. Along with this business also came something called ‘side-effects’.The most dramatic and ghastly were the birth defects created by thalidomide, a morning sickness preventative pill often used by pregnant women in the 1960s.
Synthetic medicines were used frequently but doctors and patients started to opt for safer remedies with fewer side effects. By the 1990’s people became more aware of the dangers of drugs and their growing list of unwanted side effects. They sought out alternative ways to help themselves from the common cold to the serious disease like cancer and heart disease.
Herbs and foods contain amazing amounts of nutrients and beneficial ingredients, providing, of course, that it is grown on nutrient-rich soil. Financially, it is not viable to market herbs as they cannot be patented. The FDA in America estimates that it costs over 7 million dollars to bring a new drug onto the market. Pharmacuetical companies put the figure closer to ten times that amount. They say they need over 2 million users of a substance to break even.
Demand for natural substances will not compare to drugs in money terms as there is simply not enough money to be made from herbs, according to the big Pharmaceutical companies.We have to be sensible and reasonable with all things in life – you would not go and consume a kilo of Senna leaves just because they have beneficial effects. This could be interesting! Common sense prevails. (one would hope!)
As Hippocrates once said ‘let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food’
Interesting facts…Celery, parsley, parsnip, rue, citrus species ( bergamot ) contain photosensitizing constituents. These sensitize the skin to subsequent exposure to ultraviolet light ( UV ) .There has been reported cases of severe burns resulting in exposure to UV light after a topical application containing these constituents were used. Eating large amounts of celery, parsley and parsnip soup may even result in phototoxic burns after exposure to UV light. This proves that our food and simple herbs can provide us with the constituents in potent enough levels if ever needed.
We need to gain knowledge and insight into not only how our bodies function but also how foods and herbs affect them. According to a research paper printed in Germany in 1982, the ingestion of a few fresh figs led to a patchy pigmentation on the face as well as a striped pigmentation on the arms of the patients that had been simply rubbed with juice of the fig. Do we suddenly ask ourselves, are figs dangerous?Common sense must prevail… Herbal medicine naturally enlists all systems of the body in the fight against disease. Though the treatment may have been aimed at a particular disease, it usually depends on energizing, stimulating or otherwise recruiting the aid of many systems within the organism.
St John’s Wort
Here are some interesting facts about St. John’s Wort.
- Over time, and the advent of modern pharmaceutical science, St. John's Wort was nearly forgotten as a medicinal herb. Only recently has St. John's Wort gained a renewed reputation as an effective treatment for all manner of infirmities most notably depression. Its complex and diverse chemical makeup has also shown to support depression related infirmities such as chronic fatigue syndrome, and PMS.
- St. John's Wort's antibacterial / antiviral properties render it very useful adjunctive treatment for bacterial and viral infections.
- St. Johns Wort has also been shown to be useful in treating pulmonary complaints, bladder trouble, suppression of urine, dysentery, worms and nervous depression.
- St Johns Wort can act to dissolve and remove bacterially based tumors and boils. It calms the nerves and increases the flow of urine.
- St. John's Wort is an excellent blood cleanser and blood purifier.
- For Tourette's syndrome - used with Wormseed
- Bells' Palsy (apply directly on face)
- St. Johns Wort antibacterial/viral properties have been shown useful in relieves phlegm obstructions in the chest and lungs. It can be beneficial in addressing bronchitis as well.
- Like Horsechestnut, St. Johns Wort may be valuable for treating internal bleeding.
- St. Johns Wort is used to treat chronic uterine problems and will correct irregular and painful menstruation.
- St. Johns Wort contains an alkaloid that is a heart and artery stimulant
- Is useful for low back pain
- Most recent research at two of the world's leading medical institutions, New York University and the Weizman Institute of Science in Israel ,found that 2 of the main constituents of St. John's Wort namely hypercin and pseudohypericin were found to inhibit the growth of retroviruses( including HIV, the AIDS virus) in animals. Although the results of these studies are promising, more work needs to be done. The mechanism is thought to involve the production of oxygen free radicals which can damage the viral envelope.
Here is an article that sheds some more light…. This is particularly scary as the amount of people that are prescribed Prozac and similar drugs each day is ever increasing Many children are put on this drug to control their ‘unruly’ behaviour. March 23rd, 2004 Reprinted from THE NATION
FDA Calls for Warnings on 10 Antidepressant Drugs:
Celexa, Effexor, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, Remeron, Serzone, Wellbutrin, Zoloft WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration warned doctors, patients and their families Monday that 10 popular antidepressants could cause deepening depression and even suicide. It also directed the manufacturers to put warnings of such possible side effects on the drugs' labels. The agency also alerted those involved with the drugs to look out for agitation, hostility, mania and other forms of sometimes violent behavior that have been associated with them.
The drugs — Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Lexapro, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Serzone and Remeron — are taken by 30 million Americans, according to some estimates. The first seven are in the drug category known as "serotonin reuptake inhibitors," and their sales in 2003 exceeded those of any other drug class except the group of painkillers that includes codeine. The speed and scope of the FDA's action reflected its concerns about the breadth of the potential damage the drugs could cause. "Our hope is that the new language and labeling will result in closer observation of patients who are being prescribed these drugs," said Dr. Thomas P. Laughren, leader of the FDA's psychiatric drug products team.
The warnings came after an FDA advisory panel heard testimony last month from dozens of patients and family members who blamed the drugs for suicide attempts, suicides and violent acts by children among patients taking them. Testimony at that meeting showed that patients on the medications had become more depressed or even suicidal or more agitated and violent, and their doctors were doing nothing about it, Laughren said.
The FDA hopes that with the new warnings, doctors will know when to reassess treatments and possibly discontinue the drugs, he added. The FDA said it was not yet clear whether antidepressants contributed to the emergence of suicidal tendencies and behavior. But at the urging of the advisory panel, the agency decided to issue the warnings now, before it completed a reexamination of 25 clinical trials of various drugs on children.
This summer, when that review is done, the FDA may have more to say on the issue, Laughren said.Drug companies played down the warnings and stressed that the FDA had not shown a link between the drugs and suicide. "Depression is a serious public health issue — and it takes great courage for patients to begin treatment in the first place," said Jennifer Yoder, spokeswoman for Eli Lilly and Co., which makes Prozac. "Patents should not stop treatment without first talking to their doctors."
Dr. Cathryn Clary, a vice president of Pfizer, maker of Zoloft, said her company was "working closely with the FDA" to change the drug's labeling. Concerns about a possible link between the drugs and suicide were raised in the media and by some psychiatrists in 1990. The FDA convened an advisory panel on the topic but opted not to issue any warnings. "It's 14 years later, and finally the FDA — albeit tentatively — is doing the right thing," said Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist, who wrote a book about the side effects of antidepressants.
The FDA's warning is important, he said, because many doctors and patients are not aware that suicidal and violent behavior are possible side effects. Glenmullen, who prescribes the drugs to his patients, said the warning sent a direct message to doctors: "You can't give a patient one of these drugs and tell them to come back in two or three months. You have to monitor them closely." Dr. Matthew Rudorfer, the National Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist who chairs the FDA advisory panel, said the group did not believe that the risks of the medications ruled out their use. "But we think such warnings are required to elevate the level of concern and attention that practitioners use in prescribing them," Rudorfer said.
The FDA said patients should be monitored especially carefully at the beginning of treatment and when doses are increased or decreased. Thomas J. Moore, a health policy analyst at George Washington University, said the FDA's warnings were more confusing than the message from the British government, which in December said children and teenagers should not take the drugs because of the possible increased risk of suicide. "The drawback to what the FDA did today is that it still failed to acknowledge the relationship of the suicidal, violent and manic behaviors to the drug," Moore said. With the possible exception of Prozac, there is not enough evidence that the drugs are beneficial to children to justify the risks of dangerous side effects, he said. Prozac is the only antidepressant in the group that the FDA has approved for use by children.
Neither the FDA nor the drug companies try to estimate how many Americans take the drugs. Britain's North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine estimates that as many as 30 million Americans take antidepressants. Generic drugs are available in the U.S. for three of the drugs: fluoxetine for Prozac, paroxetine for Paxil and bupropion for Wellbutrin. By Elizabeth Shogren, Times Staff Writer
Surely the above information must be enough for us to sit up and pay a lot more attention to what is really going on. We need to get back to the basics, which don’t come with side effects. These are natural herbs that are available without a script and available to anyone who makes the choice to do what is right for their body. We just need to apply common sense. Why is it that a lot of people consider the drugs FIRST and then say later that St John’s Wort is causing the problem??
Can we see something wrong here? St. John's wort has recorded a pretty impressive safety record during the centuries of folk lore medicine.
Recent medical studies confirm this safety. Germany has a lot of people consuming this amazing herb. (sixty-six million daily doses in 1994) There has not been a confirmed report of a serious drug interactions or even toxicity after accidental overdose.
Hypericum ( St.John’s wort ) is an impressive herb. As to toxicity, hypericum it is safer than aspirin. Five hundred to one thousand people die each year in the United States from aspirin, usually from internal bleeding.
Hypericum, by comparison, does not have a single recorded human death in 2,400 years of known medicinal use. This is interesting to note – how many people that you know are taking aspirin?
The only fatal toxicity known is in certain light-skinned animals, such a sheep, which die not from ingesting large quantities of St. John's wort while grazing, but of exposure to sun after. (This is why hypericum is considered a dangerous weed in Australia and is listed in Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America, by Nancy J. Turner and Adam F. Szczawinski.)
Hypericum increases the animals' susceptibility to sunlight, and they become sick and sometimes die from extreme sunburn. Medically, it's known as phototoxicity -- the overexposure to light (photo) is harmful (toxic…). This phenomenon, while theoretically possible in humans, has not been documented in the recommended doses for depression.
Not a single case of phototoxicity has been reported in human medical studies at depression-dosage levels. Even in AIDS research involving intravenous hypericum doses thirty-five times greater than the recommended dose for depression, the phototoxic effects have been few and never deadly. (High doses of hypericum are being medically investigated for its antiviral properties.)
The potential for phototoxicity should be kept in mind, however, if one has a prior hypersensitivity to sunlight, or if one is taking other photosensitizing drugs. Some of the most troublesome side effects of prescription antidepressants -- reduced sexual drive or dysfunction, adverse interaction with alcohol or other drugs, dry mouth, and headache -- are not reported by patients taking hypericum.
Perhaps we should be looking at the potent properties of St John’s Wort and using it to its full potential, rather than reaching for the drugs first, along with their side effects.
Licorice Root has long been a herb that has caused confusion. You will be able to read lots of articles about the dangers of this herb as well as a lot of documented cases of toxicity or people having reactions…. or so it seems. A very important point to note is that there doesn’t seem to be reported cases of intoxication as a result of using the WHOLE LICORICE ROOT. ( in powder, stick or tea form ).
People can develop reactions from derivatives and concentrated extracts of the herb. Most cases of reactions have occurred from such things as licorice straps ( lollies ) The flavour in licorice is due to the anise, not the licorice. If a person was to consume large amounts of these lollies every day, mild toxic symptoms may be displayed. Potassium depletion can also develop in sensitive individuals. There are also cases where people have consumed laxatives that contain licorice extract. The potassium depletion caused by the laxative itself is further aggravated by the presence of concentrated licorice extract.
Hippocrates in 400 BC recorded the use of licorice root for the treatment of peptic, gastric and duodenal ulcers. In 1946 the clinical use of the extract was being researched for the treatment of ulcers. Then, in 1962, an English scientist turned his attention to a constituent of licorice root, glycyrrhetinic acid. This constituent eventually became known as carbenoxolone sodium ( CS ) This substance worked faster than licorice root extract, but had more potent side effects. By 1965, CS had proved itself to be the number one drug in treating ulcers. In 1974 The Medical Journal of Australia stated that only three therapeutic treatments had ever been conclusively shown to accelerate the healing of gastric ulcers. They were – hospital admission, giving up smoking and carbenoxolone sodium ( CS)
All over the world research was being conducted on licorice. In terms of side effects, licorice root extract had produced sodium and water retention and also subsequent loss of potassium in a small percentage of patients. CS was more potent so side effects appeared in more people. All side effects disappeared without permanent harm once the treatment was stopped.
It is important to make the distinction between extract and whole herb. Licorice Root should generally be combined with other herbs whereby the effectiveness of all the herbs is enhanced. This simple principle has been practiced by the Chinese physicians for thousands of years.
Licorice Root possesses many medicinal properties. Hundreds of studies have been conducted on this herb particularly over the past 30 years. It is useful for the following complaints –~ infections~ viruses~ ulcers~ coughs~ inflammation~ edema~ bacteria~ nervousness Licorice root is also known as great detoxifier. It can also stimulate the production of interferon, the critical chemical in the immune system. Licorice root’s role in treating hypoglycemia is to increase the effectiveness of glucocorticoids ( adrenal hormones ) circulating in the liver, and to mimic the action of these hormones itself. This mechanism would work in cases of low blood sugar brought on by adrenal stress. Licorice root can help with adrenal insufficiency as well as helping to prevent the destruction of the adrenal glands.It also has blood sugar raising properties as well as having a positive effect on the adrenal-pituitary system.
First and foremost you may be surprised to learn that there are two types of comfrey. Often people refer to them very casually. Regular, common, medicinal comfrey is Symphytum officinale. The other is Symphytum x uplandicum. This comfrey is often used for composting.
In the late 70’s toxicity tests were done and it was revealed that comfrey contained a constituent called pyrrolizidine alkaloid. The tests that were performed were done on baby rats. They were injected with this constituent at levels that were very high and rather unrealistic. It is unclear which variety was used to conduct these studies but it has been believed that it was the comfrey used for composting. The amount that was injected into these rats were at levels that a human would have trouble eating.
Of course injecting a substance is a lot different to eating the whole leaves. Also the injection did not go into the rat’s stomach, which means it is not going through the proper digestive process. How do you compare a baby rat’s system to that of a human? A chemical that has been pulled apart and isolated will cause a different reaction than a whole substance.
Comfrey contains a substance called allantoin. This helps to stimulate the growth of new cells. Externally, comfrey has been used to promote healing of damaged tendons and ligaments. It is also used to knit together fractured bone ends, hence it is often called ‘knit bone’.Comfrey has a high mucilaginous content, particularly in the root, which makes it an important remedy for all disorders of the lungs, including tuberculosis. Comfrey makes a valued poultice for all types of bruises, swellings and sprains.