2. Herbal "Cures"
Herbs have been used throughout recorded history as "cures" for various ailments. However, the use of herbs came into the forefront more formally in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Samuel Thomson is credited for the wide spread of this practice during that time in history. During that time, the regular medical practice included harsh bleed, purge, and blister methods. The popularity of the Thomsonian sect arose not necessarily from their success in curing patients' ills but from the fact they seemed to kill fewer patients than did their entrenched competitors—the regular medical practitioners. Thomson's empirical system was based largely on the use of steam and herbs.
Many people opposed the regular profession, but they had no more knowledge of how to remedy its deficiencies than did the regular physician. They found many aspects of regular medicine repugnant but they did not know why or how they were undesirable. The public could only choose among the alternatives available at the time.
Thomson saw his mother die of measles in spite of the care of several local physicians (or was it because of their treatment?); earlier, he felt he had "cured" himself of the same disease through the use of botanies. The illusion is that what appeared to "cure" did not. At best it was less harmful than the regular mode of therapy and therefore the body was able to overcome this drug obstacle and achieved the purposes for which it instituted the healing crises. A year after his mother's death, Thomson's wife became severely ill following childbirth. Several local physicians treated her, but her condition continued to worsen. As she neared death, Thomson wisely dismissed the traditional practitioners and their poisonous treatments. He then called in the local "root doctors." One day later, his wife appeared "cured." Of course, the herbs did not "cure" but the body promptly set about the process of healing when the deadly drugs were removed.
On another occasion, Thomson badly lacerated his ankle with an axe while clearing some virgin land with his father. After a number of treatments, including soaking it in turpentine, he naturally became worse. He then ended up at the home of one Dr. Kitteridge who treated the wound with herbs and was credited with healing him. The body cannot heal if it is continually assaulted with toxins. When toxic herbs are removed, healing and repair are accelerated. Dr. Kitteridge or his herbs did not assume healing obviously. Herbs cannot help. They present less of an obstacle to the body than the harsh treatment of medical practitioners.
These incidences were enough to convince Thomson that herbs had the power to "heal" and the Thomsonian Sect began to emerge. Thomson became convinced that all disease arose from one general cause and that one remedy could effect a "cure." The cause was cold and the cure, heat. He, like the Greeks believed, "all animal bodies are formed of four elements, earth, air, fire, and water." Any imbalance among these four elements which reduced the power of the heat resulted in illness. To effect a cure, one must restore the balance. Thomson sought to restore the balance through the use of purgatives, enemas and sweat producing botanicals. The chief ingredient was lobelia, an emetic which grew wild in much of North America. To this he might add capsium, hemlock, bayberry, ginger, or pepper, and cloves to make a concoction often referred to as "Composition Tea." What Thomson did not realize is that you cannot poison anyone into health. But he killed fewer people with his method than the regular practitioners and was therefore considered successful.
Thomson patented his system and marketed it through representatives who traveled about the country selling copies of his two volume work, New Guide to Health; or Botanic Family Physician.
The treatment that Thomson advocated was rather harsh. As with the regular therapeutics, if the patient recovered, it was in spite of the treatment and not because of it. The following is one patient's account of treatment that he received (Frank G. Halstead, "A first-hand account of a treatment by Thomsonian medicine in the 1830's" Bulletin of the History of Medicine 10 (1941): 680-687.):
The fact that this system was of no value is obvious. It is remarkable that the body could withstand such a treatment. Yet some individuals recovered to a certain extent and, as harsh as this treatment was, it was still less harmful than the heroic treatment that it supplanted.
With the death of Samuel Thomson in 1843, his organization (already split three ways) disintegrated. The principal contending factions came to be known as True Thomsonians, the Physio-pathists, the Physio-medicals, and the Eplectics.
2.2 Herbal Medicine Today
Herbal medicine is still practiced today but not on that formal basis. However, there are several misleading books, organizations, and schools that advocate and teach about herbal "cures." We condemn herbs because, first of all, they have no ability to heal arid secondly, they are very dangerous due to their toxicity.
Some authors have been known to advocate the use of the herb squill which is an ingredient often found in rat poison. Mark Bricklin lists some of the most toxic herbs in his book Natural Healing.
"In general, it is safe to say that you should never use the following herbs for a home remedy: Jimson weed, daffodils, spurge, arnica, wormwood, mandrake, hellebore, squill, poison hemlock, tobacco, tonka beans, aconite, white bryony, nux vomica, calabar bean, camphor, ergot, ignatius beans, bittersweet, gelsemium; henbane, celandine, belladonna, foxglove, and may flower."
Tansy is a narcotic and may result in abortion. Valerian in excessive doses may result in headache and even delusions. Goldenseal is extremely toxic if taken in stronger doses than one-quarter of a teaspoon to a cup of water. Even in this dose, the poisoning effects are present but they are not immediately noticeable.
2.3 Comfrey (Symphytum Officinale)
Comfrey root will produce a high amount of gummy substance and the root and the leaf are both high in allantoin and pyrrolizidine, substances that are claimed to help with cell proliferation. An increase of cells will occur due to an inflammatory response to the presence of this foreign agent against the skin. Comfrey has no power to heal skin wounds but will interfere with proper healing initiated by the body. When this substance is applied externally to a wound, the outside of the abrasion will close faster than it normally would. This is a response on the part of the body to protect itself so that foreign matter does not enter into the system. As a result, proper healing, from within, is impaired.
It is also claimed that comfrey will help broken bones to knit. This is impossible since healing can only take place from within the body and no agent applied externally or ingested can promote this process.
Many herbalists advocate the use of comfrey as a tea or to be used raw in salads. However, recent studies have proven that this practice may be harmful. According to Dian Dincin Buchman (Herbal Medicine, New York: Gramercy Publishing Company, 1979). "Comfrey is in the same plant family as several other plants (Senecio, Crotolaria, Heliotropium), and these plants, investigation now indicates, contain some natural poisons in the form of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These plants have been implicated in various accidental human and animal poisonings.
"The young leaves of comfrey, thought to be edible and rich in chlorophyll, and used in many natural green drinks, may contain up to 0.15 percent (1,500 parts per million) of the alkaloid.
"Dr. Claude Culvenor of the Animal Health Division of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has worked on this subject and studied this alkaloid in pasture weeds. He is particularly conversant with heliotrope, a weed from the same plant family as comfrey.
"He notes, 'At least four of these alkaloids are known to be carcinogens, and it is probable that the type found in comfrey is also carcinogenic. While it is unlikely that anybody eating comfrey in small quantities would suffer serious effects, its regular use as a green vegetable could cause chronic liver damage or worse. Plants in the same family, have caused human poisonings: in the USSR, Africa, India, and Afghanistan after their accidental consumption in bread over a period of one or two years. The evidence of these outbreaks, considering the amount of the alkaloid we have measured in comfrey, suggests that daily consumption of several young leaves of the plant over a similarly lengthy period will lead to serious disease.' "
There are no cures in comfrey and we should eschew this herb. It is, however, useful in the organic garden as an excellent mulch and as an addition to the compost pile as it contains a large amount of nitrogen. Its prolific blossoms also attract honey bees to the garden ensuring proper pollination to all crops.
2.4 Ginseng (Panax Schinseng)
Ginseng is an herb with a long, flesh root that is often used as a medicine. It is a low plant with three leaves on the top. Each leaf is made up of five leaflets. Ginseng has small greenish-yellow flowers. Some of these flowers later produce scarlet berries. The Chinese use ginseng to "treat" many illnesses. The name of this plant comes from Chinese words meaning likeness of a man, because of the shape of its root. Those shaped most like a human body are said to be the most valuable.
American ginseng is cultivated chiefly in Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, and Wisconsin. The plant glows wild in pans of the United States and Canada.
Ginseng is a stimulant for the central nervous system. It is often taken as a tonic, a "pick me up," to sharpen the memory, suppress coughs, ward off colds, etc. This drug effect will eventually lead to extreme enervation and chronic diseases due to the constant stimulation and suppression of symptoms.
2.5 Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum Minimum)
The official name, capsicum, is derived from the Greek word "to bite," and a single taste of this substance will convince you why it was so named. This "biting" effect on the tongue and mouth will give you a clue as to what effect it has on the internal digestive tract. It is a powerful irritant and poison. It is taken for its stimulant effect which are, in reality, nature's efforts to eliminate this poison as soon as possible. Cayenne pepper should never be taken in any form, in any amount.
2.6 Peppermint (Memha Piperitu)
Peppermint is a favourite beverage all over the world. It is taken for a suppressive effect on the digestive system to control diarrhea, spasms, and relieve indigestion. Peppermint is very high in tannin which is a very astringent acid and its use results in enervation and impairment of normal metabolism.
There are many other herbs that are commonly used but we should eschew them all. They do not have any property to "cure" and they contribute to ill health due to their poisonous products.
2.7 Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a cactus that grows outdoors in tropical and subtropical climates and indoors everywhere else. When you break open one of its leaves, you see a thick, clear liquid ooze out.It is this liquid that is claimed to be a "cure" for burns, ulcers, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, psoriasis, shingles, hemorrhages, post-surgery treatment and more. It is applied topically and taken internally in a liquid form. However, instead of curing anything, it is actually a toxic substance. It contains allontoin which results in the same adverse effects as the alkaloid of comfrey. A cathartic, its purgative properties are due to three pentosides (barbaloin, iso-barbaloin, and beta-barbaloin) and to a resin. The resin is aloetin.
Aloe emodin occurs in the free state and as glycoside in various species of aloe and is extremely irritating to the delicate linings of the intestinal tract. The body attempts to discharge this poison quickly. Hence, its purgative effects.
But what about the claims? Many people experience that their sores, burns, and ulcers heal almost immediately after applying aloe vera, where otherwise would heal very slowly. The body is continually striving toward health and will do all it can to protect itself from any poisonous substances. When aloe vera is applied to an ulcer, the body closes off that opening as quickly as it can to block the entrance of that poisonous substance thereby protecting itself. This gives the false impression of proper healing. However, when the ulcer was an outlet for toxic materials, this vital outlet is closed off and toxins are kept inside the body. Now a new outlet must be found. Either other ulcers will form or more serious diseases will result.
If you do not interfere with bodily intelligence, healing will take place. To "intelligently do nothing" is the best advice for all ulcers, psoriasis, etc. That is, simply follow the teachings of Life Science/Natural Hygiene and your body will surely be vital enough to heal itself promptly.
Home > Lesson 65 - There Are No Cures
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