HERBS FOR HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.

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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IMPACTS PSYCHOLOGICAL HARDINESS

Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.

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ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…

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Scientists from leading universities in Asia and the United States and Europe – including UCLA, Duke and Oxford – are looking for the scientific underpinnings of some traditional treatments for diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which goes back more than 2,000 years, includes herbal remedies, acupuncture and tai chi. The World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization, included TCM remedies in its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). The ICD seeks to capture information on all health conditions and their treatment. TCM was included because hundreds of thousands of people use it worldwide. Representatives from Asian countries work together to condense centuries of knowledge into the new classification system.


While the past is riddled with superstitious medical practices and long-debunked beliefs about the bodily systems, such as humors and leeches, some old wisdom still rings true. Continuous learning about the human genome, coupled with the partnerships of different scientific fields, extrapolates fact from fiction of ancient medical practices. All these centuries later, we are following the sage advice of Paracelsus: “The art of healing comes from nature and not from the physician. Therefore, the physician must start from nature with an open mind.”


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LOOKING TO THE PAST: ANCIENT CURES FROM OUR ANCESTORS

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

more articles by Angela s. hoover

in an October paper published in Quaternary Science Reviews.


Some important pharmaceuticals, such as quinine and aspirin, developed through learning from traditional healers, according to Christopher N. Herndon, M.D., assistant professor and associate medical director of the IVF program at the University of Washington School of Medicine and president and co-founder of Acaté Amazon Conservation. Acaté helped the Matsés peoples of Brazil and Peru create a 1,000- page, two-volume traditional medicine encyclopedia in their own language.


Native American healers are working to integrate their traditional medicine with Western approaches. Linda Black Elk of the Catawba Nation is a lecturer at Sitting Bull College, a tribal university in Fort Yates, N.D. Her mission is to build a bridge between ancestral wisdom and modern science. She is establishing a local clinic inspired by the medical camp she and about two dozen other Native American healers and Western-trained physician volunteers operated during the 2016-17 protests at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Black Elk treats illnesses ranging from arthritis and respiratory problems to heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression and more.  

“All that man needs for good health and healing can be found in nature; it is the job of science to find it.” – Paracelsus, the “Father of Toxicology” (1493-1541)


Well before Paracelsus’ time, different cultures and now-extinct species and subspecies around the world had the same philosophy and practices. It’s now known Neanderthals utilized nature’s pharmacy for healing. The remains of several Neanderthal individuals were found in the Iraq Shanidar Cave. Surrounding one of them were numerous plants with medicinal properties, including yarrow, a natural antibacterial and anti- inflammatory agent that appears to accelerate wound healing.


Karen Hardy with the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies and the Autonomous University of Barcelona has been analyzing the calcified plaque on Neanderthal teeth for tiny traces of the foods they ate. She found chemical signatures of yarrow and chamomile, which is also considered to be an anti-inflammatory agent. These two plants taste extremely bitter and offer little nutritional value, so it’s likely they were used for self- medication, Hardy says. She also found traces of poplar, which contains the natural painkiller salicylic acid, and the mold penicillium, the source of our most successful antibiotics. Neanderthal medical skills included wound dressing, fever management, midwifery and a pharmacopeia of herbal remedies, says Penny Spikins, an archeologist at the University of York in the United Kingdom