Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why Herbs? 10 Good Reasons

Why Herbs?
10 Good Reasons…

When asked this question, my mind was immediately flooded with streams of facts, attributes and a myriad of reasons why I choose herbs almost exclusively over modern pharmaceuticals, but I’m an herbalist. If I feel a tickle in my throat, I brew up a tea. If I get chills, body aches and a runny nose, I’m on top of it with some diaphoretic herbs. If my knees feel achy or a little swollen, I apply the topical remedies. Too much worry? A soothing bath infused with essential oils is my cure.
My moisturizer is a blend of pure nut and seed oils enhanced with therapeutic-grade essential oils. My shampoo is made from soap nuts. I have more herbs stored in my kitchen than most people have food; my pantry is filled with whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, beans, 5 kinds of rice, various pure oils, dried mushrooms. My life is centered on all things real and natural. This is just how I roll.
So, when posed with the query, “Why herbs?” I feel that the green allies are so infused in my bones that an objective answer seems a foreign concept. How could I separate myself from something that is so entwined within my every cell enough to report on it? I posed the enquiry to friends and colleagues to gain some perspective on the matter and was delighted by the enthusiastic replies.

  1.  Herbal medicine works well with modern medicine. Agreed. Complementary medicine is one of the fastest growing areas of modern healthcare for good reason. It works. Professionally, I have seen many of my patients, who had been previously diagnosed with a variety of health issues, get markedly better results when combining herbal formulas to a pharmaceutical protocol. Using “fu zheng” therapy[1] for patients dealing with cancer and the side effects of allopathic cancer treatments consistently showed marked improvement with recovery time from chemotherapy, better appetite and less nausea. The doctor’s tests results often showed increased white blood cell counts and overall improvement of the patient.
  2. Herbal medicine has much less toxicity and fewer side effects than drugs. Statistically speaking, herbs are far safer than even properly prescribed drugs. According to acclaimed researcher and scientist, James Duke PhD, herb-related fatalities are almost unheard of at one in a million[2]; while adverse drug reactions cause injuries or death in 1 of 5 hospital patients.[3] As for Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine specifically, any side effects experienced by the patient (usually bloating or digestive disturbances) merely indicate that the prescription needs minor adjustments to harmonize precisely with the patient’s personal constitution and digestive imbalances.
  3. Herbs are much more cost-effective in the short and long-term. In fact, some wild herbs are growing in your backyard right now for FREE! Growing your own herbs, wildcrafting the local weeds, purchasing herbs in bulk, buying remedies at a health food store, or getting particular herbs prescribed to you by a knowledgeable practitioner are still all less expensive than the cost of pharmaceutical drugs in the US. In the short term, herbs are far cheaper, and a long term investment in your health by adopting herbal regimens, eating whole, organic foods, participating in physical activities and getting quality rest will very likely result in good health and fewer medical bills! 
  4. Herbal medicine does not support industrial corporate profit-driven agendas. Big Pharma is the world's second largest manufacturing industry after the arms industry[4] and is comprised of approximately 200 pharmaceutical corporations. Deceptive advertising, the invention of new diseases, the renaming of old maladies, suppression of negative trials, inauthentic ghostwriting and countless other measures taken by these corporate giants ensure that public opinion supports their agenda. Herbs are nature’s gift, cannot be patented (let us hope it stays this way), and consequently offer little financial incentive to potential share-holders. 
  5. Growing herbs does not cause environmental devastation. Pharmaceuticals are to chemical agri-farming what plant medicines are to organic gardening. Pharmaceuticals produce vast amounts of pollution; Drug factories pollute air and ground water as well as disenfranchising citizens of third world countries. The thousands of chemicals produced and released as by-products create a dangerous cocktail of deadly poisons that are then dispersed through rain over large areas of the planet. Pharmaceuticals are inserting vast quantities of highly bioactive and toxic chemicals into the soil and water worldwide.[5] Growing herbs organically or biodynamically can actually improve the soil and the ecosystem. 
  6. The history of Herbal Medicine stretches back thousands of years, and is the basis of all medicine practiced in the world today. The written history alone of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda is at least 3,000 years old and formed the foundations of many healing traditions throughout the world. Practical data gathered for hundreds upon hundreds of generations of herbal healers offers sound clinical information about the efficacy of natural prescriptions. By partaking in the rich lineage of botanical medicine, we are linked back to the wisdom of our ancestors. 
  7. Knowledge of Herbal Medicine secures our future by teaching the next generation how to survive. I’m not trying to be an alarmist, and I do hold out hope that humanity will rise above its baser instincts to create a sustainable culture, but as the saying goes, “Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.” Learning and teaching the art of living in harmony with nature, as our ancestors once did, will ensure the survival of our species, come what may. If catastrophe befell us (and calamities seem to be happening so frequently these days), would you know how to find food and medicine in the wilderness? This is a very important question to ask yourself. 
  8.  Healing one’s self with herbs is very empowering. The knowledge and ability to relieve yourself of a myriad of common maladies without ever stepping foot out of your own home really encourages a sense of self-sufficiency and self-confidence. It’s actually pretty easy to naturally combat fatigue, get better quality sleep, ease pain, improve immunity, regulate menstrual cycles, adjust the bowels and thrive instead of simply survive. It is our birthright to have autonomy over our own health; I suggest that you not sell it to the lowest bidder.
  9. Using botanical medicines gently enhances emotional well-being. Essential oils, herbs, homeopathic remedies, and flower essences all help to support emotional balance without suppressing our tendencies to normal ebb and flow. When combined with wise counsel, personal issues can be navigated more easily and authentically than when we inhibit the healthy expression of our innermost feelings. 
  10.  Using living botanical remedies invites us to have a very personal relationship with our medicine. There is nothing more intimate or soul-soothing than planting, growing, tending, watering, harvesting and drying valuable plant medicines right from your own garden. Few activities can compare to hiking along and recognizing the abundant varieties of wild medicinal plants with every sweeping glance. Our souls respond when we crush an aromatic leaf between thumb and forefinger and inhale deeply of that green ally’s unique fragrance; it’s a sensation that goes right to the heart.

We are an integrated part of our ecosystem, whether we circulate blood or chlorophyll, we all possess a life force and a love force. It is widely known that plants show emotional responses to external stimuli and modify their behaviors according to environmental perturbations; all living beings are more alike than divergent. Herbs grow to adapt and adjust in their environment, and in the body, herbs are biodynamic and synergistic.

There are gentle herbs that anyone can utilize for a variety of complaints such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, pain, digestive disorders, common pathogens, immune building and for beauty. There are much more powerful herbs that can treat more chronic ailments and even sophisticated Chinese herbal formulas that can address difficult to treat disorders and create balance in the body when used with wisdom, knowledge and experience. Become empowered, wise, frugal, and healthier, while cultivating an intimate relationship between your deepest self and the rich, complex tapestry of our natural world. Use Herbs.

Lisl Meredith Huebner, Dipl.CH (NCCAOM), RH (AHG) is a nationally board certified Chinese Herbalist, and a Registered Herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild. Lisl is also a certified Medicinal Aromatherapist, a level II Reiki practitioner, an Acupressurist, an Auriculotherapist, a photographer, a renowned diagnostician, a teacher and a published writer in private practice for over a decade. She is available by appointment.
Please call 8 6 0 - 4 8 0 - 0 1 1 5 or email if you have any questions, would like to schedule an appointment, attend meditations, weed walks, or are interested in taking classes.

[1] “Fu zheng” is loosely translated as “support the righteous”, meaning to support the normal functioning of the body, so that the patient may recover more quickly from a pathogenic influence.