HAPPY POWER HERB
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The desire to feel happy and powerful is something all people feel.
There are many of us who feel that herbs are a valuable natural resource and can help us lead a healthy life. Imagine being able to grow your own pharmacy in your backyard! Nature has created the medicines we need to heal our bodies in the form of plants. In fact, many of the common medications we use today came from herbs, and the disappointment with the side effects and failures of “modern” medicine have led many to turn to other paths to find health. Herbal medicine can be very effective, but the sad fact is that the internet is full of incorrect information. This is why scientific study is still needed, and we can't turn away from modern science.
Herbal medicine has been a part of our history since the time of the caveman. It is not hard to imagine one of our ancestors hungry and looking for food. They may have a stomach ache or pain in their knee, and after eating an herb they stumbled upon, feel relief of their symptoms. Our friendly caveman probably told the rest of the tribe, and the knowledge was passed down through the generations. The less fortunate caveman may have accidentally eaten something poisonous like hemlock and not lived to tell the tale. His friends may have found him, possibly with hemlock still in his hand, and warned the rest of the tribe to never eat hemlock.
Traditional Chinese medicine is known to be at least 5,000 years old. Its philosophical sibling, Ayurveda from India, is also incredibly old. Both systems make use of hundreds of herbs to treat various illnesses and maintain health. They also believe that food is medicine and medicine is food. Considering how close India and China are to each other, it is not surprising that there was a flow of ideas between the two countries.
Traditional Chinese Medicine believes in maintaining a balance between Yin and Yang. Yang energy being more active and dynamic while Yin energy is more restful. Pulse diagnosis as well as other forms of observation and question asking are used to make a diagnosis. An example would be an overactive individual who may be thought of as having too much Yang energy. An individual who was always sleepy and drowsy would be thought of as having too much Yin energy. The goal would be to use herbs to create a balance between the Yin and Yang energy of the body. There are also 5 elements that must be taken into account: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire. Herbs are thought to effect different organs and meridians in the body. Each organ is not only associated with physiological functions but also different types of emotions. For example, a person with a liver imbalance may be easily angered.
Ayurveda categorizes people based on their doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). Similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine, pulse diagnosis and other forms of observation and question asking are done to obtain a diagnosis. The goal is to have balance between the 5 different elements in Ayurveda which are Water, Fire, Air, Ether, and Earth. A person who is easily angered could possibly have too much of the Fire element. Different herbs are used to balance the different elements in a way that is best for each dosha.
As our hungry caveman ancestors found out, what you eat for food can heal you or harm you. There were no pharmaceutical companies to mass produce isolated compounds that were discovered in herbs or created chemically. Nature provided the medicine we used to heal ourselves. The scientific method as we know it wasn’t invented yet, so what worked or not was based on how many people were healed using the herbs. Entire books were written based on what was believed to help the different conditions affecting us.
Unfortunately, not everyone read the books and not everyone tested what they read. Or maybe they did study devoutly, but they prescribed so many herbs for a condition that they couldn’t be absolutely sure what herb did what. If you give someone 5 herbs, and then they get better which of the 5 herbs helped? Maybe only one or two herbs worked, or maybe it was all of them that worked. It was only when the scientific method was invented that a framework was standardized for testing things. Clinical trial protocols were created to help get rid of bias and the placebo effect. For those of you who do not know, the placebo effect is when you get better because you believe you will get better not because of what you were treated with. It is psychology that helped you not the herb. If an herb was found to have a positive effect, then the result had to be reproducible by another group of researchers to be taken seriously. This way it could be proven that what had occurred was not an accident. Statistical analysis was added to further analyze the accuracy of the results.
As wonderful as science is, we have seen how corruption by the pharmaceutical industry has turned medicine from a search for health to a search for profit. We have seen physicians say what we have is treatable, but we then suffer bizarre side effects because of the treatment. Sometimes the side effects are worse than what we had in the first place. This is giving science a bad name.
On the other hand, we have unscientific hucksters who claim something will heal you but have no evidence to prove it. They claim, "Everything is good because everything is natural" For those who believe that, realize that there is nothing more natural than a killer virus. The internet is full of present day “snake oil salesmen”. People who will make outrageous claims and take advantage of the ill informed. They also spread false information, so that the average person can’t tell what is true and what is false. The worst is when something sounds scientific and correct, but as you dig deeper, you find it to be based on things that aren’t true. This is especially true in alternative health field where so many people who have been let down by “modern” medicine turn to for help.
The trend of combining science with traditional herbal knowledge is something that is becoming more prevalent. In India and China, it is not uncommon for studies to be conducted on traditional herbal formulas. In Germany, herbs are regulated like drugs, and it is far more common for physicians to recommend herbal remedies. As a result, the quality of the herbs from Germany are also more reliable. In the United States, more studies are gradually being done on herbs. This slow start could be due to a lack of proper funding, and the fact that pharmaceutical companies really only conduct trials on their own artificial products. Hopefully, the day will come when enough scientific evidence has been collected that American physicians may comfortably prescribe an herbal product.
At the end of the day, there is only one medicine and we should use the best of both “modern” medicine and the herbal knowledge that has been passed down through the generations. We feel this approach will lead us towards greater health and power.
It is important to remember that the advice of a qualified healthcare professional is essential. Herbs can have drug interactions and can also worsen health conditions if used improperly.
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The conceptual framework of Ayurveda. It is not scientific, but a step in the right direction of trying to develop a framework for proper herbal use.
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The Yin/Yang concept was used to prescribe herbal medicine to treat diseases in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Some of the many different herbs and spices used in Ayurvedic Medicine.
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