Plant-Based Medicine for Quality of Life
Mar 02, 2020 07:38AM
By By Zachary Saber
“In earlier times of human history, people lived in harmony with the natural world, and regarded plants as sentient, aware, intelligent, alive and healers in their own right.” ~ Ross Heaven
There is extensive research on the history of medicinal plants available today. Regretfully, today’s world requires us to differentiate between manmade, chemical laden pesticides/growth hormones and organics.
Plant-based medicine is the basis of naturopathic medicine. Everything we put in our body is a medicine. We are either fueling our body, mind or soul or we are harming it. For many, we see the need to raise organic foods in our gardens or to buy and plant organic plants/produce, while others need to hike in a natural environment to feel nature’s healing effects. This of course feeds the soul and the mind as well as the body, effectively helping us feel better in our bodies.
Medicinal plants have been discovered and used in traditional medicine practices since prehistoric times. Plants synthesize hundreds of chemical compounds. The earliest historical records of herbs are found from the Sumerian civilization, where hundreds of medicinal plants are listed on clay tablets. The Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides documented over 1,000 recipes for medicines using over 600 medicinal plants in c. 60 AD; this formed the basis of pharmacopoeias for some 1,500 years.
Drug research makes use of ethnobotany to search for pharmacologically active substances in nature, and has in this way discovered hundreds of useful compounds. These include the common drugs aspirin (Willow Bark), digoxin (Foxglove), quinine (cinchona tree) and opium (poppy). Organic plants tend to be more nutritious with more healthy compounds, enzymes and vitamins. How this happens depends on the source; however, organic farmers tend to have healthier soil, which leads to better crops and better health for the consumers, which could be animals as well as humans.
In order to truly be a medicinal plant, it must be organically grown, raised and utilized. Organic rules require no pesticides be used, no genetic modifications and no man-made chemicals to grow the product, whether it is plant-based or animal-based.
Many animals are injected with antibiotics to help fight off possible infections so that the animals do not die before processing. Often, animals are injected with hormones to encourage getting fatter sooner. These hormones are absorbed into our own body, increasing cancer rates in both men and women.
The use of these drugs is not allowed in organic foods. Studies are still proving that ingesting meat or foods with antibiotics or hormones has adverse effects on our own bodies and well-being. Often, the waste products of the animals are used as fertilizers which, again, infiltrates our own bodies with residues of unhealthy byproducts—increasing disease, illness, digestive issues, sleep issues, diabetes, cancer and more.
Organic foods contain a better nutrient profile, meaning we get more antioxidants, omega-3 fats and compounds that help prevent inflammation. For example, a conventionally grown stalk of broccoli can cause inflammation, while an organic stalk will relieve inflammation. We see the same problems with wheat, corn and soy which is no longer edible and provides no nutritional value to whomever or whatever ingests it.
Being savvy of the source of the plants we purchase and grow is essential to knowing the quality of what we are nurturing, especially if we are planning on eating it or using it to make topical medicines. Look for locally sourced products first and find out how they are grown. Are they organic or conventional? If conventional, keep looking for a source. Check the local farmers’ market and ask questions. Get suggestions from a naturopath, healer or trusted source.
We must take the time to make ourselves and our family the priority they should rightfully be, and to that end, we can use plants as the medicine they are to improve our quality of life.
Zachary Saber, LMT practices at WellnessFirst!, in Tucson. He specializes in myofascial release, structural integration and neuromuscular re-education, with nearly 20 years of hands-on experience.