A unique and practical perspective on health makes the more than 3,000-year-old practice of herbal medicine the best hope for health and healthcare today. The practice developed at a time when disease or chronic illness was likely a death sentence. This forced herbal medicine to be best positioned to promote disease prevention and gaining insight into the very nature of health.
One insight present in the many traditions of herbal medicine, especially Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, is balance. One enjoyed good health when the many different factors that contributed to it – liver, heart, and kidney function, for example – worked together. This cooperation, however, adjusted with the seasons and the human body’s different needs as food sources, sunlight, and weather changed.
Today, modern, conventional medicine has come to understand the importance of the inter-relationships between these systems. It’s a big reason why so many health centers have embraced integrative medicine. Yet, though science and modern medicine may now better understand what the different traditions have explained for centuries through their own philosophical traditions, it’s answers are limited. A healthy diet and exercise are its best preventative approaches.
This might have worked centuries ago, before industrial pollution, processed foods and the sedentary lifestyle created by technology. Today, people – the human body – need additional support to detox, fight pathogens and support a less active lifestyle. Herbal medicine meets this need. Here’s how.
Herbal Medicine Promotes a Holistic, Patient-centric Approach
Herbal medicine focuses on the health of the patient. The herbs used aim to restore the individual to a state of balance and enable the body to do its own healing, as it’s designed to do. People aren’t machines and do not repair like machines either. Change one factor and it affects all the other systems. Herbal medicine recognizes this and can adapt its remedies accordingly.
Herbs Protect Systems Before They “Break”
Herbs offer an adaptive way to promote health based on the ever-changing needs of the patient. Conventional medicine is very good with acute care but does not currently have an approach to anticipate and attempt to prevent problems from developing. Herbal medicine fills this role.
Supports the Body that May Not Get Enough Nutrients
Many foods associated with modern living lack nutrients. Even natural foods lack nutrients due to soil depletion and supply and delivery times. Where the diet in the past may have been loaded with enzyme- and antioxidant-rich foods, many foods lack these nutrients. As a result, digestion can be slowed and even disrupted. Herbal medicine offers a way to boost levels of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients to support health.
Helps the Body Deal with a Greater Toxic Load
Modern living puts an incredible toxic load on the human body. Carbon monoxide in city air, heavy metals from vehicles and manufacturing, and even unseen chemicals like perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel and “likely human carcinogen” according to the EPA, affect people everywhere. In fact, experts believe almost every single person on the planet has some perchlorate in their bloodstream.[i]
If pollution and toxins cannot be avoided, then the preventative approaches offered by herbal medicine remain the best option to limit the impact of these toxins.
Herbs Can Promote Healing for a Variety of Ailments
Some herbs have specific uses. Danshen, for example, is well known for its ability to support heart health. The various ginsengs on the other hand are considered adaptogens and help the body where they’re needed most.
Herbal Medicines are More Affordable
Cost is a big reason many people turn to herbal medicines.
In studies, herbal medicines often have fewer, if any, side effects compared to conventional treatments. The reality is, herbal medicines when used properly can often be safer, but must account for other medications and even other herbal products being taken in addition to personal situations to ensure the maximum safety and benefit.
The Future of Herbal Medicine is Bright
Herbal medicine is often spoken in the context of ancient wisdom. In many cases it is ancient knowledge. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still evolving. Science and technology make it possible to improve the dose and delivery of herbal medicines to ensure quality, potency and effectiveness.
This is the idea behind Innovative Chinese Medicine. It combines the knowledge of Chinese Herbal Medicine with modern science and technology to identify the active ingredients in herbs to create consistent and proven herbal medicines that can be tested and validated.
This approach creates predictable results for patients, who are after all, the focus of herbal medicine.