Plant Options as Alternative Medicine



Eastern medicine has evolved over thousands of years. During that time, advancements in identifying and using herbal medicine has been a cornerstone in the treatment of numerous conditions and disease. Today, after millennia of trial and error, research and documentation, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is still grounded in the usage of herbal remedies, and is used as the standard system of medicine throughout China. The practice and use of herbal medicine has grown in popularity worldwide and is typically used as an alternative medicine. Herbal medicine has earned the right to become standard practice treatment rather than just an alternative.

The word alternative, however, does mean that there are options for those becoming their own healthcare advocate when treating mild to severe ailments. For too long, Americans have put their trust in synthetic, man-made medications that usually just treat the symptoms. The medications usually contain a chemical formula that can be found in nature. Often times, more medications are needed to combat those symptoms. It turns into a revolving use of medicines, all of which are not getting to the root of the issue in which treatment is required.

Because “health defense” is the focus of this month’s issue, it’s vital that people know their options for both active and preventative care. With close to 12,000 recorded herbal remedies available, it’s surprising that it hasn’t become more prevalent here in the west. It’s certainly easier to just take whatever pill, tablet or liquid that’s been prescribed by the doctor. It can take some time and involve some footwork when researching the many different herbal remedies available. But when it comes to taking control of our own health care, in this case, it’s worth the extra work if the disease is being treated and not simply the symptoms.

Usually used for making a strong tea, herbs are steeped in boiling water for periods lasting up to one hour. The taste is commonly known to be unpleasant, but is ingested anyway by hundreds of millions, knowing that the benefits received far outweighed the bitter taste. Again, it appears so much easier to just take a pharmaceutical which often times comes in the form of a pill, where there’s no taste involved. The decision needs to be based on effectiveness when determining which course of action to take while healing. For many, a little extra footwork and a bitter taste is well worth the positive outcome.

Herbal medicines are widely sold throughout the U.S., but are labeled as a supplement where no prescription is needed. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the usage or safety of the products. Used mostly in the states as a complementary medicine, it has yet to be used as a primary remedy for illness and disease, even though herbal medicine usually targets the root of the condition rather than just treating the symptoms that accompany specific ailments. There are numerous Chinese Herbalists here in Tucson, and they would be happy to help answer any questions and offer guidance.

As the healthcare crisis continues to complicate basic care, becoming an advocate for personal treatment is now more widespread. Instead of taking numerous prescriptions, some being prescribed to combat the side effects of other medications, it’s reassuring to discover that natural and time-tested options are available. How does herbal medicine begin to compete with Big Pharma? The answer lies with knowledge. Become familiar with basic herbs, and not just the ones that are perhaps in the kitchen pantry. 

Jeffrey Green, M.A., is a local free-lance writer, Reiki Practitioner and staff member for Natural Awakenings Magazine. Currently, Jeffrey’s mission is to educate as many people as possible to the benefits of natural medicine.

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