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Herbal Medicine, The Basics

Herbal medicine, also termed botanical medicine, is the use of herbs for the promotion of health and the treatment of disease. Traditionally speaking, this was once the only medicines known to man and has been practiced since the world began. Herbalism has a written history of 5,000 years. Even the bible speaks of herbs in Psalm 104:14 as given by God for the service of man.

In modern medicine, the primary focus is to assault the symptoms of disease with strong chemicals or the removal of organs. These approaches often cause side effects less desirable than the disease itself. Originally, pharmaceutical drugs were derived from plants and highly refined as the active ingredient. With each passing year, drugs are less likely to have started from plant matter and rather, use synthetic ingredients that are often difficult for the body to process. Many practicing clinical herbalists promote the use of herbs in their whole plant form only and consider isolated components to be less safe. Salicylic acid is an example. This is found in the herb meadowsweet and is used for aspirin. Salicylic acid can irritate the lining of the stomach and cause bleeding. The whole form of the plant meadowsweet contains other compounds which guard against this irritation.

There are several delivery systems in which herbs can be administered. You can often find herbs as capsules, tablets, powders, teas, tinctures or oils. Regardless of the delivery method, herbs are basically found in two forms, whole plant or extract. The whole plant is often sold as a powder or capsule and the extract can be found in a capsule or tincture (liquid extract). Which form you take really depends on the reason you are consuming it, but as a rule, tinctures absorb more quickly into the body and fast acting than capsules. The liquid can be absorbed in the mouth or gut into the blood stream with little to no digestion. A much higher percentage of the herb is used by the body than capsules because the body does not have to break it down. Another advantage of the tincture, is that the extraction method preserves it for longer periods of time, as capsules can get stale and lose potency within a year.

The best way to consume herbal tinctures is to drop them straight into the mouth for direct absorption. If the herb has a strong flavor this may prove difficult. Tinctures can be diluted with lemon juice or even lemon water to make them more palatable. Using warm water will help the alcohol evaporate.

At Old Paths Natural Market, we offer a variety of herbal preparations as well as bulk herbs in their whole form. Remember, some herbal medicine can be strong and should be used wisely. Herbs can also interact with medications, in which case, your medical provider should be consulted before use.

May you prosper and be in health.

Regina Tyndall, NTC CCH

Nutritional Therapy Consultant

Certified Christian Herbalist

Educating and consulting on the benefits of natural and traditional foods for optimal wellness in an age of declining health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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