As the Student Advisor at Genesis School of Natural Health my purpose is to guide students through their studies. I also take on projects as needed.
My business is called The Herbs & The Bees, LLC, which has a fully-stocked apothecary and provides holistic wellness consults and services utilizing nutritional augmentation, herbal and homeopathic remedies, as well as energetic modalities.
by Johanice De Jesus Student: CMH, MH & TND programs
Have you ever looked at the ingredients in those store-bought menthol chest rubs?
When you are congested, with cloudy eyes and you feel like your body is going to fall apart, it does not even cross your mind to read the ingredients, but I warn you, you will not like to discover what you have just rubbed on your chest. Commercial chest balms contain a mixture of derivatives that one would not expect. Although it will give some relief to the respiratory tract, you have just made an innocent, but serious mistake that can have serious consequences on your health.
Classic over-the-counter chest rubs generally have less than 10 percent herbal ingredients and are about 90 percent petroleum jelly in gel or cream form, which is usually combined with turpentine. When petroleum jelly is not properly or completely refined, as is sometimes the case in the U.S., it may be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known carcinogens, especially when used for an extended period of time.
Fortunately, there are excellent natural and organic respiratory chest rubs that you can make right at home that will offer sincere and safe relief for your health and the health of your entire family (especially for the little ones!) with all the benefits of herbs and without carcinogenic ingredients. . . such as those found in: Vaseline, or other P.A.H.S. pollutants.
So, allow me to share some information with you since the cold and flu season is upon us and we turn to products such as these in search of relief. If this is the case, be sure to always seek a natural response and use the opportunity to develop your trustworthy herbal passion.
Let’s Get Started!
Gather the following ingredients to create your respiratory remedy:
Menthol Chest Balm
Bees Wax – 40 grams
Menthol Crystals – 30 grams
Grape Seed Oil – 10 oz.
Eucalyptus Leaves – 3 oz.
Mint Leaves – 3 oz.
Rosemary – 3 oz.
Vitamin E – 1 Tsp
*At the end add 5 drops each of Rosemary, Lavender and Eucalyptus essential oils.
STEP #1 ~
Place the following ingredients into a glass mason jar.
10 oz. Grape Seed Oil
3 oz. Eucalyptus Leaves
3 oz. Rosemary
3 oz. Mint Leaves
STEP #2 ~
Put the jar into a bain-marie water bath for 4 hours on a low temperature. During the maceration time, occasionally stir using a wooden utensil.
STEP #3 ~
When the maceration process in the water bath is finished, proceed to strain the oil to remove the herbs. For this, use:
Clean Glass Bowl
During the casting process be carful to not to let any particular herbs pass into the oil.
*At this point the oil has a spectacular smell! This is an indication that everything is going well, and the extraction of the herbal properties that was expected in this process, has occurred.
Such a Heavenly Aroma!!
STEP #4 ~
Once the oil is completely strained, place the glass container in the warm water of the bain-marie and add the beeswax. Use 40 grams of beeswax.
Next, using a wooden utensil, stir the beeswax so that it melts quickly. , taking advantage of the heat that the water conserves where we carry out the maceration process.
STEP #5 ~
Once the beeswax is melted, remove the glass container with the oil from the warm water and proceed to add the rest of the ingredients.
Adding the Remaining Ingredients…
STEP #6 ~
First add the menthol crystals (approximately 30 grams). Allow them to dissolve in their entirety.
STEP #7 ~
Next, check the temperature of the oil before adding the rest of the ingredients that make up this balm.
When the temperature drops to approximately 130 degrees F, continue.
STEP #8 ~
Then add the small teaspoon of Vitamin E. This ingredient protects all of the ingredients in the balm. Since the recipe is oil-based, Vitamin E acts as a preservative for the product.
STEP #9 ~
Now add 5 drops each of rosemary, eucalyptus and lavender essential oils. Then stir well to incorporate.
Now the balm is complete! I am super-excited to see the finished product. The aroma of this balm blend has blown me away. We are all eager to know how it will look and to sample it.
Decant the Product
The next step is to place our balsam mixture in the containers previously sterilized with alcohol.
This time I decided upon a beautiful 4-ounce glass container in blue to protect the final product very well.
Finally, while the balsam mixture is still warm enough to pour easily, pour it into the containers, then wait for it to harden. Once hardened, I will verify that the consistency is as I expect – a firm but creamy consistency.
I waited about one hour to make sure it was completely hardened. When it was completely cooled, it was time to complete the packaging process.
I am very happy with the packaging that I selected since it brings additional protection to the product that, in addition to looking very good, will offer security to the consumer.
My product is finally packed! Now with help from the canvas program, I am able to create beautiful labels for my product.
This is the information that I included:
Product weight and quantity
Description and usage suggestions
Well, I won’t make them wait any longer. This is the result and I love it, and my whole family does too!
I really enjoyed this project and must say that In the end I am very satisfied. I tried as much as possible within my knowledge to take care of the details, but I know that there is a lot to learn and I am very eager to do so. I find it to be very exciting, the idea of having the ability to create something that is for the well-being of others and that helps them to live better and in a more natural way. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of this beautiful race.
Since about 1981, scientists have been working alongside of product developers to develop new market opportunities for various nanoparticle applications. These nanomaterials (NM), also called Nano, have special qualities that offer distinct advantages over the commonly-used compounds of the day. Depending upon the type of nanoparticles used, qualities are demonstrated such as softening, strengthening, lubricating, whitening, illuminating, etc. are offered. In very competitive industries, Nano was cutting-edge. Now, Nano has become necessary for product manufacturers to stay ahead of the game.
The United States continues to remain unregulated in its relationship to Nano, unlike Canada and Europe. Food manufacturers are not required to list that nanoparticles are in the products they sell. It is assumed that medications are subject to more intense oversight before becoming available for public distribution, but this does not appear to be the case. Let’s just say that Nano can be found everywhere. It contaminates our food supply, pharmaceuticals, supplements, personal care products, waterways, …most everything. All the while there is no official safety-testing and study-after-study declares the ravages found by these unnatural compounds on human, animal and aquatic life.
According to the Center for Food Safety, nanoparticles in food or food packaging can gain access to the human body via ingestion, inhalation or skin penetration. Nanoparticles’ small size allows them to circulate through the body when ingested, reaching potentially sensitive target sites, such as bone marrow, lymph nodes, the spleen, the brain, the liver and the heart. After nanoparticles are in the body, some types may have the ability to translocate to various organs and the central nervous system. For example, silver and carbon nanoparticles show up in other parts of the body after inhalation exposure.
Is Nanotechnology Safe? by Shelley Stonebrook Mother Earth News
Yet still, most people believe that supplements are designed to promote health and vitality and an ideal world this would be true. However, it is unfortunate that not all of our modern supplement production methods are beneficial, including Nano. When in fact, some may be quite detrimental, neutralizing any benefit of the supplement at best, and at worst, harming the body. Let’s take a look.
In the past ten years or so, “Nano” has increasingly become all the rage. Fancy and cute terms like ‘quantum dots’ and ‘ENPs’ get us all excited while we lack true understanding. Quantum what’s? and ‘HUHs’? Many of us don’t really know what they mean, except perhaps that they’re really small bits of, well, something… that we just happen to be ingesting more of on a daily basis, almost blissfully, without much of a clue. Let’s look at this a little deeper…
To put it simply, nanoparticles are very, very tiny particles, less than 100 nanometers (nm) in size in a minimum of one dimension. They fall into one of three main categories:
Ultrafine Particles (UFPs) ~ Natural nanoparticles and aerosols which include the smallest particles found in air pollution, both indoors and outdoors. Sources of UFPs are: sea spray, viruses, “inorganic ash, soot, sulfur and mineral particles found in the air or in wells, to sulfur and selenium nanoparticles produced by many bacteria and yeasts.”1
Incidental (INPs) ~ Resulting from ‘anthropogenic’ (meaning, caused by humans) processes (i.e. industrial wastes, manufacturing and welding fumes, diesel exhaust, etc.). These particles have the ability to penetrate mammalian cells gaining a direct route to the brain. UFPs cause oxidative stress resulting in increased incidences of cardiovascular and cardio-respiratory mortalities.2
Engineered Nanoparticles (ENPs) ~ Intentionally created, (not natural) synthetics, using processes designed to meet very specific properties.3
At present, there are five subcategories of nanoparticles. All five categories can be engineered, but, the first two subcategories can also be found naturally. These are the carbon-based and metal-based Nanos. The three engineered Nanos are called quantum dots, dendrimers and composite nanomaterials.
Carbon-based supplements are an exciting field of opportunity in Nano technology especially related to supplementation. Substances called bioactive carbons are made up of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen that create high-energy organic molecules. They also contain something called ‘poly-dispersed polyanions’ which contain multiple, negatively-charged sites, capable of binding and neutralizing positively charged molecules. In other words, polyanions put the “bioactive” into bioactive carbons.
These electrons allow bioactive carbons to function as both a carrier and a binder. Their small size gives them access to places in the body that larger molecules from more traditional supplements cannot go. They have the ability not only to remove toxins but to increase the body’s retention, ability to absorb, and effective use of the nutrients in food, vitamins, minerals and supplements. Used appropriately, bioactive carbons have potential to be the shining light in this Nano-mess that has been thrust upon us.
Metal-based materials like carbon-based Nano have a high reactivity and can occur naturally or are commonly engineered into materials such as nanogold, nanosilver, titanium dioxide, zinc dioxide, cerium dioxide, and zero-valent iron.4
A quantum is the very smallest bit of a substance that contains electromagnetic radiation. Quantum Dots (QDs) are not found in nature and are strictly engineered with a reactive core made out of metals or semiconductors that are encased in an protective organic shell. The purpose of this shell is to protect the core from oxidation (breaking down).
Colloidal quantum dots irradiated with UV light.
QDs emit colors based on size.
These types of nanoparticles are used in “medical bioimaging, targeted therapeutics, solar cells, photonics and telecommunication.” These types of nanoparticles are considered useful as their small size allows them to travel in the body. Biomedical applications such as medical imaging, drug delivery or “targeted therapeutics”, biosensors, solar cells, photonics and telecommunication as being pursued. The “dots” or centers of these nanoparticles are made from materials such as “cadmium selenide, cadmium telluride, indium phosphide, and zinc selenide.5
Discovered in 2004, graphene is a material made of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a repeating pattern of hexagons which are arranged in a honeycomb pattern. In itself, graphene is not fluorescent (unlike cadmium). It “quenches the fluorescence of the quantum dots. However, when conjugated with bovine serum albumin (BSA or Fraction V”, a protein derived from cows) it “provides a novel highly fluorescent nano probe” with the potential for “non-invasive optical in vitro imaging. The graphene-QDs are used for in vitro imaging of live human carcinoma (Hela) cells. Graphene-QDs could be readily up-taken by Hela cells in the absence of specific targeting molecules, e.g., antibodies or folic acid, and no in vitro cytotoxicity is observed at 360 μg mL(-1) of the graphene-QDs. The results for the imaging of live cells indicated that the cell-penetrating graphene-QDs could be a promising nano probe for intracellular imaging and therapeutic applications.”6
No in vitro cytotoxicity. Doesn’t that sound great? Maybe, but not so fast. ‘In vitro’ simply means the test above was performed in a Petri dish, not within a human or even in an animal. The medium used was an immortal cell line called HeLa. HeLa is a line of ovarian cancer cells taken in 1951 that has been perpetuated for the last 70 years. These HeLa cancer cells do not contain normal human “karyotype”. Meaning that the number and appearance of chromosomes in these cells range from 76 to 80, of which 22 to 25 chromosomes are abnormal. A normal human cell has 46 chromosomes. It is important to note that while “HeLa cells resemble normal human cells in many ways, they are neither normal nor entirely human.”7
Now, to be clear the researchers did not claim that Nano graphene was not cytotoxic to humans, only to the non-human cell line they experimented upon in the Petri dish. In Toxicity of graphene-family nanoparticles: a general review of the origins and mechanisms, researchers compiled data from multiple sources to get an even bigger picture. Here is what they found:
Along with the application and production of GFNs increasing, the risk of unintentional occupational or environmental exposure to GFNs is increasing. And recently, there are some investigation on GFNs exposure in occupational settings and published data showed that the occupational exposure of GFNs had potential toxicity to the workers and researchers. GFNs can be delivered into bodies by intratracheal instillation, oral administration, intravenous injection, intraperitoneal injection and subcutaneous injection. GFNs can induce acute and chronic injuries in tissues by penetrating through the blood-air barrier, blood-testis barrier, blood-brain barrier, and blood-placenta barrier etc. and accumulating in the lung, liver, and spleen etc. For example, some graphene nanomaterials aerosols can be inhaled and substantial deposition in the respiratory tract, and they can easily penetrate through the tracheobronchial airways and then transit down to the lower lung airways, resulting in the subsequent formation of granulomas, lung fibrosis and adverse health effects to exposed persons… The toxicological mechanisms of GFNs demonstrated in recent studies mainly contain inflammatory response, DNA damage, apoptosis, autophagy and necrosis etc., and those mechanisms can be collected to further explore the complex signaling pathways network regulating the toxicity of GFNs. It needs to point out that there are several factors which largely influence the toxicity of GFNs, such as the concentration, lateral dimension, surface structure and functionalization etc.
Ou, L., Song, B., Liang, H. et al. Toxicity of graphene-family nanoparticles: a general review of the origins and mechanisms. Part Fibre Toxicol13, 57 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12989-016-0168-y
In general, the data that is known about the toxicity of graphene should be of great concern for anyone that considers undergoing any of the therapies that have been mentioned. There is simply not enough known to prove that exposure to this known toxin is safe for use in any form, internally or externally.
Dendrimers are engineered nano-compounds (branched nanomolecules) which are particularly useful to the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries for use as drug delivery systems, polymer materials (large molecules such as plastics to DNA and proteins), chemical sensors, and modified electrodes. They are “three-dimensional nanostructures engineered to carry molecules incapsulated in their interior void spaces or attached to the surface.”8
Here is an example for your consideration. When studying the natural cell membrane found in the blood of healthy donors, it was found that rises in the presence of engineered microparticles (MPs) circulating “in the blood [were] associated with diseases that damage blood vessels….Among the major potential adverse events are abnormal clotting and inflammation, particularly after administration of blood platelet products. In fact, moderate to severe reactions to transfusion of platelet products have been documented in more than 20% of recipients.”9
Composite NMs are made “using two different NMs or NMs combined with larger, bulk-type materials. They can also be made with NMs combined with synthetic polymers or resins.” They “consist of multifunctional components and have novel electrical, catalytic, magnetic, mechanical, thermal or imaging features.”10
The common substances found in each of the supplement fillers listed below are all Engineered Nanoparticles (ENPs). Nano is everywhere. It is found in food as flavor and texture enhancers and preservatives, in the water supply, the air, medications, supplements, cosmetics and personal care products like suntan lotions, metal fabrication, auto parts, product packaging, aircraft engines, paints and coatings, plastics, technology, television screens, Nano-engineered organs and tissues, etc.
In an article entitled, “The Bad” the following health considerations are raised:
Nanoparticles have been shown to be absorbed in the livers of research animals and even cause brain damage in fish exposed to them after just 48 hours. If they can be taken up by cells, then they can enter our food chain through bacteria and pose a health threat like mercury in fish, pesticides in vegetables or hormones in meat. The increasingly-popular carbon nanotube (20x stronger and lighter than steel) looks very much like an asbestos fiber – what happens if they get released into the air? Being carbon-based, they wouldn’t set off the usual alarms in our bodies, making them difficult to detect.
Supplements are more than just a pill or a capsule. They are even more than the sum total of the active ingredients. There are other additives that require awareness. Some additives to supplements are also commonly known additives to food and cosmetics. Researchers are questioning the safety of these ingredients, although they have been labeled as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for years. Science is discovering scads of evidence that Nano is contrary to what is promoted as “safe”, but sadly, many are suffering from the adverse affects without knowing why.
It is so important for natural health professionals as well as consumers. All of us need to be “on-our-game” – making sure ingredients are indeed beneficial and the supplement quality is high. The best supplements are not available to people direct through retail outlets. In fact, it is nearly impossible to find supplements of the quality available to health professionals ina retail shop.
Still, health professionals have to look closely at the ingredient list for each supplement they buy. Professional supplement companies, even those that are very good, can offer supplements that have ingredients that the knowledgeable health professional should reject. Certainly, if you were not a label-reader before becoming aware of this information, we hope that you will become an avid label-reader as a result.
The following are a some of the most common nanoparticles found in supplements:
One of the most common additives is stearic acid. This is a substance (a part of the magnesium molecule) that that benefits manufacturers in a few different ways. First, as a lubricant it acts as a “flow agent” to keep the product moving nicely through the machine so it doesn’t get clogged up. It also has a softening property which makes the supplement more pliable to fit into a form. Stearic acid also causes the ingredients in pills to stick together making a nice, firm tablet.
It is able to do this because stearic acid is a naturally-occurring type of fat found in animal and vegetable fats, such as coconut and cocoa fats. It is a precursor to oleic acid which is found in coconut oil, palm oil and shea butter. While this natural form of stearic acid is known to be a potent anti-inflammatory, there appears to be a dangerous difference between consuming a healthy fat that naturally contains stearic acid and a supplement that contains a commercially isolated stearic acid molecule that has been mechanically processed two or three times.
Hydrolysis is a chemical process that destroys the chemical bonds of a substance. In the case of stearic acid, hydrolysis reduces it to an isolated fat molecule. It is sticky so that it sticks the pill together and emollient so that it aids in the flow through the machines. Science assumes that it is okay to do this because the stearic acid molecule looks the same if it is in a healthy fat or in an isolated form. What is not known is whether it is the hydrolyzation process or the loss of synergy that causes hydrolyzed stearic acid to become destructive in the body.
Plants and animals are not made up of isolated chemicals, rather, they are made up of a multitude of complex chemical interactions. Some of these interactions aid in the proper absorption and bioavailability of its components, others act as buffers which reduce the likelihood of side-effects. There are many different factors involved.
Researchers have found that commercial stearic acid does cause problems. It “selectively inhibits T-dependent immune responses in vitro.” It does this by enhancing “membrane rigidity to an extent that plasma membrane integrity is significantly impaired, leading to a loss of membrane potential and ultimately cell function and viability.”12 In other words, steric acid works to suppress T-cells by breaking down cell membranes. In a world where we need as much natural immunity as possible, this is not good.
The network of membranes inside of a cell that proteins and other molecules move through is called the endoplasmic reticulum. As stearic acid accumulates within the cells of the endoplasmic reticulum, the stress that it causes creates inflammation and cell death.13 Furthermore, formaldehyde has been found to be a metabolite of stearic acid. Both steric acid and formaldehyde are substances listed as contact allergens.14, 15
Similar in action to stearic acid, magnesium stearate is a compound of stearic acid plus a magnesium ion. It is 6-8 percent magnesium oxide bound to stearic acid. Like stearic acid, magnesium stearate is a common manufacturing lubricant and adhesive that holds pills together and keeps capsules from sticking together.
A product that is bound (coated) with magnesium stearate keeps the body from absorbing the whole product. This dramatically reduces the absorption of nutrients and the intended therapeutic effect of the supplement. As magnesium stearate is not a natural substance, it uses up additional resources in the body as it attempts to detox these molecules. There is also a cumulative effect as various supplements containing magnesium stearate are multiplied and ingested.
Titanium dioxide is an industrial chemical that is white and without taste or odor. It is used as a whitener and is added to food, toothpaste, cosmetics, sunscreens, paints and plastics as well as pharmaceuticals and supplements. It has never been consumed in traditional diets and the addition to food and supplements is a modern-day contrivance.
“Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO(2)-NPs, <100 nm) are increasingly being used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics due to the unique properties derived from their small sizes. However, their large surface-area to mass ratio and high redox potential may negatively impact human health and the environment. TiO(2)-NPs can cause inflammation, pulmonary damage, fibrosis, and lung tumors and they are possibly carcinogenic to humans. Because cancer is a disease involving mutation, there are a large number of studies on the genotoxicity of TiO(2)-NPs.”16 (A carcinogen is a substance that causes cancer.)
Researchers have found that titanium dioxide nanoparticles can be translocated and accumulated in the brain causing oxidative stress and an “overproliferation of all glial cells, tissue necrosis” (irreversible tissue death caused by a lack of blood and oxygen) and apoptosis (genetically regulated cell self-destruction marked by the fragmentation of nuclear DNA) of the cells of the hippocampus. Additionally, “…numerous studies have described the accumulation of titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO(2) NPs) in the liver, kidneys, lung, spleen, and brain, and the corresponding damage…”17 “Therefore, these genes may be potential biomarkers of brain toxicity caused by TiO2 NPs [Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles] exposure…”18
Multiple studies have recorded changes in the regulation of multiple genes that are associated with the following (in mice): 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Colon Microinflammation & Susceptibility to Colon Cancer
Neurogenic Disease States
Apoptosis in the spleen
Spleen Injury Reducing Immune Capacity
Severely Altered Gene Expression Involved in Immune/Inflammatory Responses
Silicon dioxide or silica has many uses. In the construction industry it is used in the production of concrete, fracking, semiconductors, on microchips, glass production, fiberglass, foods like spices and non-dairy creamer (to reduce caking), cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Due to its ability to bind to nucleic acids, it is used in the extraction of DNA and RNA.25 Silica is also be used to increase the weight of supplements and medications causing them feel more ‘substantial’ to the consumer.
Silicon when processed into nanoparticles becomes dangerous to the human n body. “Silicon-based materials and their oxides are widely used in drug delivery, dietary supplements, implants and dental fillers. Silica nanoparticles (SiNPs) interact with immunocompetent cells and induce immunotoxicity.”26
While studying the effects of silicon dioxide nanoparticles on mice, researchers happened upon the finding that neurotoxic affects may become apparent through changes in the gut-brain axis. They said, we “demonstrated for the first time that the neurobehavioral impairments and brain damages induced by SiO2NPs [silicon dioxide nanoparticles] might be distinctively associated with the disruption of gut-brain axis by specific chemical substances originated from gut…”27 [Silicon Dioxide] “..SiO2NPs significantly caused the spatial learning and memory impairments and locomotor inhibition. Although SiO2NPs did not trigger evident intestinal or neuronal inflammation, they remarkably damaged the tissue integrity.”28
Silicon dioxide also appears to cause severe inflammation and cytokine imbalances which leads to lung hyperresponsiveness (allergic asthma).29, 30, 31, and lung cancer (from the inhaled nanoparticles).32
The importance of selecting supplements with safe ingredients cannot be overstated. It is the utmost priority for one to regain and maintain their vitality. One can easily find studies outlining the damaging effects of additives like silicon dioxide, while at the same time slick-looking websites are promoting products such as ‘digestive system cleanses’ made of this same damaging substance. How can this be? How should someone select quality supplements with the least amount of harmful ingredients?
The answer is multifaceted. First read the labels and know what it is them. Then learn to identify particularly harmful ingredients. Next, realize that a majority of supplements available to the public are owned by or manufactured by pharmaceutical companies (although the brand of the supplement may have a different or previously-trusted company name).
Natural health professionals have access to high-quality, clean supplements, but you will always want to know the ingredients as it is those “other” ingredients that are particularly troublesome.
Natural health professionals, especially those who are herbalists, are willing to encapsulate ingredients or provide what you need in an alternative form that is beneficial. They should never add fillers or binders because they are not using high-output machinery. Seek out relationships with people like this or better yet, become one yourself!
Anyone who has studied basic human anatomy knows that blood travels through the circulatory system, lymphatic fluid moves throughout the lymphatic system and electro-chemical messages are sent back-and-forth via the nervous system. Science has identified and proven these so they are known facts.
Conversely, Eastern medicine. also called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is based upon an invisible energy movement in the body that flows along energetic pathways called meridians. In TCM, meridians are most commonly associated with acupuncture or acupressure. The name given to this energy that travels along these meridians is known as Qi (pronounced chee’).
Science is increasing in its ability to identify how the body transfers this energy and just how critically important it is to vibrant health. Additionally, there are quite a number of methods used to measure this energy. First, let’s take a look at some of the amazing recent discoveries within the human body.
INCREASING CLARITY… It should come as no surprise that science is always gaining new insights in the identification of parts of the body never before proven to exist. While there is much that is yet unknown about the workings of the human body, new discoveries are being made on a regular basis.
For instance, in 2010, two doctors inadvertently discovered the interstitium which is the actual organ that carries interstitial fluid. Previously it was believed that interstitial fluid was only an extracellular fluid, but now it is known that this fluid is contained within connected fluid-filled sacks. While much is still unknown, the interstitium seems to be a holding place for fluids that are going to the lymphatic system. Additionally, the interstitium may also act as a shock-absorber for organs. If you’ve ever been jarred in an accident, having internal shock-absorbers would become of tantamount importance.
In 2012, the glymphatic system was first described. No, that was not a misspelling. The glymphatic system is the part of the lymphatic system that runs parallel to arteries and works to clear waste from the central nervous system and the brain mostly during sleep. It also importantly drives cerebrospinal fluid into the brain. It makes sense that the brain has a system in place to drain wastes and other toxins and holistic health professionals have been operating upon this principle that science has how proven to exist.
In 2013, the Dua’s Layer of the eye’s cornea was discovered. Primarily made up of collagen, this layer is very tough although it is thinner than a human hair at only about 15 microns thick. Knowledge of the Dua is beneficial to those on the receiving end of cataract surgery.
Another new organ called the mesentary was discovered in 2016. The mesentary is part of the gastrointestinal system. It was previously thought to be many fragmented layers but has been been observed to be one continuous organ. In actuality it is a double fold of the peritoneum which lines the abdominal cavity providing support and holding the intestines in place by connecting them to the abdomen. Calvin Coffey, a researcher from the University Hospital Limerick in Ireland and discoverer of the mesentary stated “In the paper which has been peer reviewed and assessed, we are now saying we have an organ in the body which hasn’t been acknowledged as such to date,”1
NEW FRONTIERS IN ANATOMY & ENERGETICS… Enter the Primo Vascular System (PVS). The PVS is considered an anatomical system which is dispersed throughout tissues, organs and cavities in the body. The PVS covers the entire body and functions as a regulator and coordinator of biological processes that are the foundation of life. The “PVS has never been discovered in human dissections because it hides within the fascia, a collagen structure that surrounds muscles, tendons, organs and other tissues of the body.”2 The primo-vascular system also appears to be able to regenerate cells and tissues. More about that later.
In the 1960s, a Korean scientist named Bong-han Kim published a book in Korean, Chinese, English and Russian that contained the results of his discovery of the primo vascular system and its interrelation to acupuncture points and energetic meridians. However, in 1966, he and most of his books disappeared and his research institute was closed. His revolutionary work stopped and was all but forgotten until recently.
In 2016, an article was published detailing professor Vitaly Bodyanny’s use of a microscopy system called CytoViva which he invented, patented, and used to confirm the actual substance of the primo vascular system. Through microscopy, professor Bodyanny “revealed for the first time the microstructure of the miniscule, translucent system of vessels, subvessels and stem cell-filled nodes—together making up the primo-vascular system—running throughout a rat’s body, appearing in and on blood vessels, organ tissue and the lymphatic system.”3
“Even with our microscope, you cannot see the vessels until they are touched because they are transparent, but they turn a yellowish color when touched. The width of the node is only 1 mm, and the fine structure of the node can only be seen using high-resolution light microscopy,” said Vodyanoy, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and physiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University. “The rat is an excellent model for research before studies are conducted with humans.”4
Korean scientists have also been able to view meridians by using a Trypan blue BHS-specific dye along with technologies such as detailed CT scans. These clearly reveal acupuncture point anatomical structures. Other types of equipment that have been used to ‘see’ this newly discovered organ system are infrared imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), ultrasound and LCD thermal photography.
PVS ANATOMY… Prime vessels (PVs) have been found in brain ventricles, blood vessels, lymph vessels, thoracic ducts/tissues, abdominal subcutaneous tissue, adipose tissue, in the placenta and umbilical cord, and in cancerous tumors. “The structure was filled with various immune cells including mast cells and WBCs [white blood cells].”5 “…one of the most important PVS functions appears to be its role in the regeneration via a small (~1 μm) subcellular body called ‘sanal.’ According to [Bong-han] Kim, a cell generates multiple sanals and the sanals arriving at the primo nodes (PNs) via primo vessels (PV) eventually produce new cells, by way of the ‘Sanal-Cell Cycle.’ Sanals express stem cell biomarkers[*]. Appropriately differentiated sanals have been shown to perform non-marrow hematopoiesis and repair damaged tissues. However, many questions on sanals still remain…”6
*A biomarker is simply a cellular, biochemical or molecular alteration that can be measured. These measurements are frequently used to determine the pathogenicity of disease but can also be used to determine healing potential.
To view images of Primo Vascular tissue, click HERE.
Professor Vitaly “Vodyanoy is collaborating with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, or LECOM, in Pennsylvania to test his hypothesis that the nodes, when activated by acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation, pressure or laser, release stem cells that flow to organs where they replace injured cells and become organ cells.”4
“A liquid, called “the primo fluid”, circulates in the PVS. Its flow is slower than blood flow and lymphatic flow. The primo fluid flows in one direction, attending blood flow. The liquid flow depends on the heart beat and on the pressures of the blood and the lymph.”7
Prmo Vessels have mechanisms to circulate the primo fluid actively. All nuclei of the tissue cells are connected to fine terminal subvessels, and these subvessels are connected to the primo vessels in a body’s organs. …All the PNs [primo nodes] in an organ are connected to all meridians. The meridian structures start and end at the PNs for the organs.”7
ELECTROMAGNETIC ENERGY PATHWAYS… A May 2018 article entitled A New Definition of an Acupuncture Meridian published by Fletcher Kovich asserts that meridians do not have an actual anatomical structure of their own but they ride on the anatomy of the PVS.
“The meridians themselves do not have a dedicated anatomical structure; instead they are merely tracts of tissue whose normal function is impeded when the related abdominal organ is stressed. It is hypothesized that the organ information is communicated in electrical waves that may travel through the connective tissue sheaths of the superficial primo vessels. Hence, the primo vessels serve as an inadvertent transport for this information, but the organ information is independent of the physiological purpose of the primo vascular system, as are the resultant meridians.”8
Chinese theory of acupuncture teaches that each meridian is a subtle electromagnetic field in the body and that each acupuncture point a magnetic unit. Dr. Jerry Tennant MD, MD(H), PScD, ophthalmologist and founder of The Tennant Institute further elaborates upon this concept. He teaches that acupuncture meridians flow along a series of muscles that can be likened to rechargeable batteries. The flow of electromagnetic energy passing along these muscle-battery circuits provides energy to the muscles which in turn form a power supply for the organs on that circuit to operate and regenerate by producing new healthy cells.
Dr. Tennant further theorizes, when voltage runs low at the cellular level, chronic illness ensues due to the body’s inability to make new, properly functioning cells. The subsequent failure of organ(s) on that same circuit will result should the root cause(s) of the inadequate voltage not be remedied. Pain is an indicator of energetic deficiencies and/or blockages along various meridians.
IN THE BEGGINNING… “The development of meridians (i.e., the PVS) takes place prior to the development of other organs such as blood vessels and the nervous system. The formation of the PV [primo vascular] blast cell occurs within 7–8 hours after fertilization; the formation of the primordial PVs occurs within 10 h[ours] after fertilization; the formation of the primitive primo lumens occurs within 15 hours after fertilization; and the completion of the primo lumens occurs within 20–28 hours after fertilization. The PVS plays an important role during the development of an organism and seems to exist throughout the biological world, including in invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants. Living organisms keep themselves alive via regeneration following the sanal-cell cycle. Sanals* (i.e., microcells) grow into cells, and cells become sanals. A sanalsome is a type of chromosome that forms when cells divide. The chromosome emerges in the metaphase of cell division. Hematopoietic [blood cell forming] organs such as bone marrow, spleen, and lymphatic nodes have well-developed PVs, the structures and functions of which are similar to PNs [primo nodes].”9
*Sanals are DNA microgranules (not fragments) as they contain all of the DNA information, not just a part. They appear to be able to grow in concentric circular patterns and become cell-like structures. They grow very quickly and steadily, especially in the beginning (think of the early fertilization and growth).10 They appear to be unique to the primo vascular system and at this time there is much less information available about them than the PVS.
The energy flow of the meridians can be measured without regard to whether this energy flows through or upon the primo vessels and will gain clarification with further exploration. What remains is the intelligent design that empowers the human body energetically from the moment of conception and throughout life. Primo vessels (PVs) “have bioelectrical activity, excitatory conductivity, and mechanical motility. The electrical activity changes in relation to stimuli to the PVs.”7 The energetic pathways of meridians can be measured by finely calibrated voltage meters that are not unlike those used by electricians.
One of the best methods of testing energy flow for the health professional is electrodermal screening (EDS/EDT). EDS is a form of Acupuncture point testing that utilizes Chinese meridian theory to detect electrical changes on the acupuncture points of the hands. Additionally, a proper form of manual muscle testing (kinesiology) techniques may identify blocks in the electromagnetic energy field of a person through testing the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is connected to the meridians at the autonomic ganglia.
Students of Genesis School of Natural Health can learn muscle testing which works upon the autonomic nervous system. In addition, both students and graduates have a unique opportunity to purchase a professional-grade EDS machine (Avatar) for use in their business at a discount.
There is reason for celebration of the amazing scientific discoveries such as the Primo Vascular System and the pathways it creates for life-giving energy to flow throughout the body. Discoveries such as this confirm that the ancient paths can be the best choice for ones healing journey. While our forefathers did not see the structure, they understood well, the function and the pathways of energetic medicine – something modern medicine is only now beginning to explore.
Students come to us from all walks of life and for many different reasons. Some are young and gaining the skills to enter their first career. Others are now pursuing a passion for natural health that had been put on hold to raise a family. Still others are actively raising children (or grandchildren) and attempting to balance their studies with parenting and perhaps holding jobs outside of the home. While our military students experience frequently being uprooted which causes disruptive breaks in their studies. Fortunately, with our programs they have the ability to pick up where they left off.
It is common for some folks to begin their studies seeking to find answers to their own personal health crisis. There are also those who are caregivers for a loved one who has decided to refuse the benefit of natural remedies for the duration of their illness. Still, these students remain grounded in the belief that natural healing with herbs and gentle remedies is the best support of the body in its ability to heal, if not for their loved one, perhaps for someone else who will embrace it. They are absolutely right.
Quite a number of our students have already worked in the healthcare field. Once having gained a clear understanding of the industry’s strengths and weaknesses are wanting to understand the functional relationship between body systems and how gentle, yet powerful, non-invasive remedies foster the healing process and not simply disease maintenance.
These are some of the most common scenarios in a broad sense, yet there are as many different stories in totality as there are students.
Of these, there are students that graduate and immediately take flight applying their knowledge and quickly building a clientele. They seem to give no thought to their ability to “fly”. They just believe they can, and they do. It is quite a sight to behold.
Yet others struggle with a myriad of doubts and concerns. Do I really know enough? Will people listen to me? Can I possibly help someone? As an introvert, how do I convince people I can help them? I don’t yet “look” the part, will people trust me to help them? I’m still working on my own health issues, will anyone believe I am capable? …and on and on.
Often there are a number of themes centered around self-doubt. Here’s a list of some of the most commonly expressed concerns.
I Struggle with My Confidence Because…
I still have my own “uncured” disease or health condition
I’m not perfect
I don’t look “the part”
My family refuses to take my advice. Who else would believe me?
I’m not perfect
I’m afraid to speak in public
I’ve made previous “health” decisions that have harmed my children
My experience is only in the medical profession
I’m not perfect
I’m not married
I think I might be too old
I’m not good enough
I’m not smart enough
I struggle with unhealthy lifestyle choices (addictions)
I’m not perfect
Insert your special disqualification here: _________________
All of the listed items above are legitimate concerns. However, none of them are good-enough reasons to derail our hopes and dreams. So here we find those suffering silently who just can’t get past their personal fears of unworthiness and private feelings of inadequacy. Are those feelings actually valid reasons for holding them back? Likely not.
Self-doubt is a powerful force that can hold us back from our dreams. It comes replete with constant reminders of our shortcomings and any shred of confidence we manage to gain takes a pummeling when we consider stepping out.
if you’re someone who suffers from self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy I’m gonna ask you to do something brave. Put on your greatest “inner warrior” and determine not to let self-doubt keep you from realizing your God-given dreams. Get ready?
So I want to take a moment and expose self-doubt for what it is …a coward that is full of fear. Just wait warrior, you’re gonna be all over this because the very thing self-doubt accuses you of (that list above) is the very thing that self-doubt is. You on the other hand are not self-doubt. If you see yourself as a player in this scenario, then perhaps you’ve been listening to its voice for much too long.
Self doubt can only appear strong when it remains hidden within you influencing your thoughts. Once it is exposed it loses its power. What is the power of self-doubt? In one word…
Bouncing around in our minds and our hearts, self-doubt wields paralyzing power. Worse than a discouraging roommate …and certainly not a topic shared by any of Dale Carnegie’s professionally trained presenters You know the type, they look a fabulous picture of health presenting no major health issues or bad habits.
Silence. Yes, that’s it. As long as these thoughts remain unspoken, they will remain unaddressed. A modern-day poet wrote about silence and its power to restrain our life vision.
The Sound of Silence
Verse I ~ Hello darkness, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again Because a vision softly creeping Left its seeds while I was sleeping And the vision that was planted in my brain Still remains, within the sound of silence…
Verse 5 ~ And the people bowed and prayed To the neon god they made And the sign flashed out its warning In the words that it was forming And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls And whispered in the sound of silence”
Words and Music Written by Paul Simon
Reflecting upon these words I was taken aback by that last verse. Here the author describes the homage paid to ‘silence’ and how the voices and dreams of many are being squelched. I wonder if anyone besides me can relate?
Break the Silence.
Now is the time to speak out about your dream. Now is the time to believe. It is great to have a vision, because we need to set goals to get ourselves there. If you need help setting goals read this blog to learn how:
If you recognize self-doubt it is critically important to do so that you may realize your dream. Share that dream and the doubts you are having with someone. Be brave. BREAK THE SILENCE! Find someone to share with! There are many people who will listen and be encouraging. In any case take action and break its power. However, once spoken, you may be surprised at how fast self-doubt retreats.
When I hear all the talents, interests and visions of the students I speak with I am absolutely amazed at how different each one is. Like snowflakes, no two people and no two dreams are alike. It is so incredibly beautiful. So don’t let a lack of confidence ruin your whole day, or week, or year, or life. Work with the talents that you have and continue to build yourself up in areas that are lacking. Don’t try be a mirror image of someone else. That just no fun and someone’s already done that.
The world doesn’t need two of any of us. What it does need is for you to be the very best you that you can be. You will reach people that others never could. Likewise, this is true for each of us, but only if we refuse to pay homage to the silence of those things that hold us back.
In order to see ourselves accurately we need to know what we can do. So without being hypercritical or getting into a funk, analyze your personal strengths and weakness. Remember, you have both! We all have both. So make sure to list items under both the ‘strengths’ category and the ‘weakness’ category.
Celebrate Your Strengths!
Focus on who you are and what you can do and not just on those things you are not – or are not… yet. We’ll get to those in a moment.
Any student that is learning about natural healing is already increasing in strength and knowledge. Experience helps it all come together. It is normal to be a little jittery in the beginning. Don’t worry if all the pieces don’t fit right away. If you persist, eventually they will.
We can use our journey as part of our testimony:
“I am not yet who I want to be. but I am also not what I would have been if I had not begun making changes. By actively using these tools, I have accomplished this“… (and name your victories). Talk about the struggles you have had and the obstacles you’ve overcome.
People relate to the struggle and they will trust your honesty. More still, they will hope that you will have compassion for them because you have faced difficulties. …and you will.
Next. Take Action.
Meanwhile, turn your weaknesses into strengths! Skills can be gained. So where you believe you are lacking, do some extra work. For instance the person who struggles with public speaking could join Toast Masters International. It is a free club that provides speaking opportunities and offers constructive feedback. If you are interested visit their website and find a club in your area or a group that meets online.
If the thought of interviewing clients brings on anxiety, then ask friends or a sympathetic family member to sit in. At the end let them critique you. Although it’s not always easy to be on the receiving end, honest criticism is extremely beneficial. This has helped me to be a much better interviewer – giving my clients what they need, and not too much.
For those with physical issues, whatever they may be. Having the perfect body or being disease-free is not a prerequisite for helping people. While it’s true that some people are judgmental, much of your business will come from referrals. Once you begin to help others they will talk and your business will grow.
Still, each of us should be actively engaged in becoming a better “ME”. For some of us, we may need the help of another health professional to walk with us in our journey for awhile. This can be a great learning experience as well as a healing one. It’s not just about being smart enough to learn all the answers for our clients. Walking a similar path to that of our clients will be very enlightening and the tips and tricks we gain are incredibly helpful. Do or will you require your clients to keep a food diary? Then keeping one yourself for months on end will give you a good idea of what some folks will need for encouragement along the way.
Is family less than encouraging? Sadly, just about every natural health professional deals with this in some form or other. Family are often the most difficult people to help. After all, they’re older and “wiser”, a witness to some of the shear dumbest things we’ve ever done, know how to “push our buttons”, and a host of other things. Even so, we love them.
Still, when we want to break out of the box, it’s hard to work within those well-established boundaries set for us as children. It is wonderful if we gain our family’s support. But if not, it is only as limiting as we allow it to be. Stay humble, take courage and press on.
Surround yourself with those people who are supportive and give ample space between yourself and those who are not. Don’t let them drain the strength and momentum that you need to accomplish your goals. When we love our family members we must respect (not agree with) their decisions for their health. Given the space they need, sometimes down-the-road they will seek us out, and then sometimes they will let us help them. In my experience, it their initial coming to me has always on their terms and never on mine. – I direct the path to healing, they have to do the work, just as any client would. The initial coming to me for help is always determined by them.
For those living a stressed-out life, finding it impossible to balance family, work, school and everything else, learn and apply stress-reduction techniques to your own life. What herbs do you find effective? How do prayer and meditation help? Why is exercise important? What things, not so much? Why is sleep foundational to good health? How do you get good sleep. All these things and more, are the important life lessons learned in your journey all the while getting a holistic education. NONE of it is wasted!
Your clients will deal with just as much stress and self-doubt. In time you will find that your recommendations, having been hard-earned for you, will be delivered with compassion and conviction, not simply intellect. You will feel the right amount of pressure to use in the delivery – not too little to be ignored and not too much to overwhelm.
Perfection is stagnation. Your clients won’t need a perfect example, they need someone who can identify with them and the hindrances they face to getting well. They need to be met where they are at. They need to be given creative and manageable goals that will get them right where they need to be. They need your help and encouragement to feel successful along the way. So ask yourself, what did you learn (or are learning) on your journey to a healthier you? How did you clear your obstacle to healing? Have you arrived at perfection? Nope, but you’re on your journey to excellence! …and you’re further now than you used to be.
There is a theme in all of this. The excellence that we find in our own personal journey, offers those golden nuggets to be shared with others. Things that can really make a difference. If we only became ‘perfect’, then most of our clients would find true health (like perfection) to be unattainable. So let’s teach them to be their best THEM while we are learning to be our best MEs and leave images of perfection to the television health guru pseudo-personalities.
Rest assured, that experience will come with practice. Meanwhile, let us set our hearts on being excellent each day of our journey. While true confidence comes with experience, you can do a lot to bolster that in areas that you see room for improvement.
“The one who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the one doing it.”
What is confidence, if it is not believing in ones-self? So as you can see, there is no need to worry. Simply take stock, take action, and trust yourself. You got this thing!
A well-equipped backpack is a must have for any sportsman or woman such as hikers, backpackers, hunters and survivalists. However, everyone can benefit by giving some forethought and preparation to some herbal basics for emergency situations.
A bug-out bag or “BOB” as it is sometimes called, is prepared in anticipation of a disaster event to last a minimum of 72 hours. It is self-contained with the basic components necessary for survival. In other words, one’s BOB should be a complete set up for the individual. Every individual ought to know how to proficiently use the components of their BOB and not be dependent upon another person in the event of separation or injury.
Additionally, each BOB should contain thoughtfully-considered items to provide for short-term necessities such as a basic shelter/sleep system and cordage, navigation, fire-starters, emergency food, utensils for cooking and eating, extra essential clothing, water purification supplies, a first-aid kit, emergency food, a knife, etc.
While this blog will only consider four valuable herbs that should be included, there are a host of videos and articles available on the internet that can easily be located to instruct one on the art of survival and identifying the bare necessities for a bug-out bag.
Here we will begin with the first essential “herb” one should carry.
Essential for life as our bodies cannot produce it, salt is a catalyst in many important functions within the body. It is crucial in that it assists the body in retaining water. Sweating, fever, vomiting and diarrhea deplete the body of fluids and can cause a medical emergency.
Heavy perspiration can cause a rapid loss of essential salt thereby throwing off the body’s electrolyte balance causing cramps and spasms, change in the regular beating of the heart, brain fog and the like. Salt also aids in activating salivary enzymes and producing hydrochloric acid, both of which are necessary for the proper digestion and absorption of food.
How much salt do we need each day? The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) recommends consuming one and one-half teaspoons of unrefined salt each day. Be sure to remember that with exertion and perspiration more salt is lost through the skin and must be replaced beyond the recommended daily dose.
Hilda Labrada Gore of the WAPF writes, “Low salt consumption has been linked to metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, poor digestion, parasites, and even depression. Salt is critical for proper brain and body functionality.”1
It is best to select an unrefined sea salt such as Celtic or pink Himalayan salt. The grind you choose is up to you. For myself, I prefer a course grind of salt in this application for ease in handling (fine ground salt is a bit easier to lose out of a zip-lock baggie. Plus, I like the idea of tossing a few grains of salt in my mouth to suck on as I walk along.
Additionally, the daily allotment can be used to boost the flavor of foraged foods.
Perhaps it could be argued that “technically” salt is a mineral and not an herb. However, there are herbs that contain mineral “salts” including sodium chloride. For those who live in areas without access to salt reserves, foraging for herbs like hickory roots, coltsfoot and lambsquarters (among others) can provide a source of salt and were used by our ancestors.
In those first few days of a disaster scenario, it may just prove simpler to have already packed a salt source, saving the necessity of foraging for later.
Every year roughly half a million people in the United States end up in the hospital, primarily due to dehydration. Intravenous (IV) rehydration (saline) is used to treat moderate to severe cases of dehydration. Children are more likely than adults to become dangerously dehydrated when they become ill.
Awareness is key to maintaining health and avoiding additional challenges when dealing with emergency situations.
The solution to the health problems of the world today is to be found in natural remedies, not in poisoning the system with chemicals. Although they may appear to bring temporary relief, they add a debt of debilitating poison which will later result in serious problems.”
John Harvey Kellogg, MD 1852-1943 (Founder – Kellogg’s Corn Flakes)
Chia Seed (Salvia Hispanica L.)
As a food, Chia is a veritable nutrition explosion! The following are some nutrition facts would garner appreciation from any health food aficionado.
Chia has been an ancient source of food for well over 5,000 years. Highly esteemed by the Mayan and Inca peoples, the seeds of the Chia plant were likely the most important part of their dietary staples. It was once called “warrior’s food” and only one tablespoon of this nutritious seed was said to provide a whole day’s worth of energy.
Chia is one of the highest sources of plant-based protein that includes all nine of the essential amino acids we need. It is high in the vitamins B-1, B-2 and B-3; the minerals calcium, magnesium, selenium, iron; and it is high in antioxidants! Chia also contains phosphorus, potassium, boron, and copper and zinc.
It is recommended to rehydrate chia by mixing it in water and allowing it to set for 15-20 minutes prior to eating or drinking. It is also suggested that an adult not consume more than two tablespoons of chia seed in one day.
Activated charcoal (AC) powder is pure carbon created by burning substances like hardwood, coconut shells, bamboo, etc. (yes, these substances are herbs!) at high temperature in an oxygen-deprived environment. The result is regular charcoal.
It is important to note that activated charcoal is NOT the same as those “charcoal briquettes” folks purchase by the bag from the grocer or the home store for grilling food. This type of charcoal is saturated with toxic chemicals and is detrimental to one’s health. It should never be used medicinally.
However, regular charcoal can be ground to a powder and used in the same manner as AC, however, a significantly greater quantity must be used.
Activated charcoal, unlike regular charcoal has undergone additional processing with chloride salts that increase its surface area by developing a network of pores. In fact, so much additional surface area is created by this process that a single teaspoon of charcoal powder that has been “activated” has a surface area equivalent to that of a football field.2Now that’s something!
Charcoal has a remarkable capacity to ‘adsorb’, whereby atoms or molecules from certain substances are attracted to and collect upon its surface. “This function is not to be confused with “absorb”, as when a towel soaks up water. …As the charcoal travels through the stomach and bowels, it will capture and neutralize poisons. Charcoal is not absorbed by the body and does not pass into the bloodstream.”2
The uses of activated charcoal are bountiful. It is commonly used in air and water purification, odor reduction, beauty products, and in gardening. In fact, AC can be used to make a primitive water filtration system in an emergency situation. Activated charcoal’s unique adsorptive qualities make it a dynamic emergency herbal that can be used both internally and topically.
Internally, one of activated charcoal’s outstanding characteristics is its ability to neutralize toxins through adsorption thereby assisting the body’s ability to eliminate toxins. Activated charcoal is a “well-known detoxification agent, it is used daily in hospitals and recommended by Poison Control Centers to treat poisoning emergencies.”3 So on the trail, should diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress, stomach bug, or food or chemical poisoning occur, don’t delay – reach for the AC.
UsingActivated Charcoal Internally
Caution: There are no absolute contraindications for use in poisoning, however, activated charcoal is not equally effective for all toxins.
It is also important to be aware that ingesting activated charcoal can have a detoxifying effect upon any pharmaceuticals a person may be taking. Therefore, medications may not reach full potency, nor last as long. The following instructions are for emergency situations and not for chronic use of AC.
Ingested acids must be neutralized with baking soda and water. Caustic/corrosive agents must be neutralized with vinegar and water. Additionally, activated charcoal may obscure endoscopic visualization of esophageal and gastric lesions caused by the corrosive agents.4 If possible, call poison control or 911 for advice. (The phone number is in red text below.)
In severe acute poisonings oral activated charcoal should be administered repeatedly, e.g. 20 to 50g at intervals of 4 to 6 hours, until recovery or until plasma drug concentrations have fallen to non-toxic levels.
In addition to increasing the elimination of many drugs and toxins even after their systemic absorption, repeated doses of charcoal also reduce the risk of desorbing from the charcoal-toxin complex as the complex passes through the gastrointestinal tract.
Charcoal will not increase the elimination of all substances taken. However, as the drug history in acute intoxications is often unreliable, repeated doses of oral activated charcoal in severe intoxications seem to be justified unless the toxicological laboratory has identified the causative agent as not being prone to adsorption by charcoal.
The role of repeated doses of oral activated charcoal in chronic intoxication has not been clearly defined.5
Neuvonen PJ, Olkkola KT. Oral activated charcoal in the treatment of intoxications. Role of single and repeated doses. Med Toxicol Adverse Drug Exp. 1988 Jan-Dec;3(1):33-58. doi: 10.1007/BF03259930. PMID: 3285126.
While there are discrepancies between the various sources regarding proper amounts for dosing, the following oral dosing recommendations will serve as a guide. There are also dosing instructions on the “Herb Label PDF” available below. You can attach these labels directly to your baggies containing your herbal remedies.
Don’t worry about giving too much activated charcoal in an emergency. AC will not harm a person beyond potentially causing constipation and black stools. Constipation can be avoided by having the person drink an additional two (2) glasses of water after taking each dose.
In an emergency…
Call 911 or the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222
Then, while you are waiting, give activated charcoal…
Adult – 50 to 100 grams = 5 to 10 TBSPS 12+ Years – 50 to 100 grams = 5 to 10 TBSPS 1-12 Years – 25 to 50 grams = 2.5 to 5 TBSPS Under 1 Year – 1 gram = approximately 1 rounded ¼ TSP
Repeat doses in 10 minutes, and again if the dose is vomited up, and should symptoms begin to worsen.2
Activated charcoal is tasteless but does have a slight powdery/gritty texture. Children who need to be encouraged to drink “black” water can be helped by using a straw, adding the AC to apple juice (if available), and having the grownup ‘enjoy’ a glass of “black” water too.
“Small children will resist and must be held. Laying a child on his back will prompt him to swallow reflexively. Use a spoon or small bulb syringe to give the charcoal mixture.”2
Slurry or Grey Water – Used for babies (colic, digestive) and individuals with digestive sensitivities (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, IBS, etc.). Stir 2-3 tablespoons AC powder into a quart of warm water, allow the AC to settle, then pour the grey water into a glass or baby bottle. Repeat several times by adding water to the remaining AC, stirring, and settling out again.
Note: Activated charcoal dissolves more easily into warm or hot water.
In addition to taking AC internally, should the liver or kidneys not be functioning properly or in the event of snake or insect bites a poultice should also be applied to the appropriate area(s) topically.
Using Activated Charcoal Topically
Apply a plain poultice or the even more effective ‘jelly poultice’ (wound dressing).
A plain poultice made with only activated charcoal will dry out rapidly making it quickly lose its effectiveness. A jelly poultice holds water much longer and is made by mixing the AC with another substance that “gels” when water is added. Soaking this substance for 15-20 minutes is reasonable. Mucilaginous herbs are best for a jelly poultice. Those such as ground flaxseed, slippery elm, marshmallow root, sassafras – or even that chia seed that you packed (works best if ground). More possibilities are cornstarch, arrowroot, tapioca starch, potato starch (basically anything starch-y), lentils, xanthan gum, and the like.
While not the most effective these other herbs (and herbs like them) can be foraged for depending upon the season and used mixed with activated charcoal for a poultice. Note: this list is incomplete – Aloe vera, American ginseng, angelica, asparagus, burdock, chickweed, dandelion, fenugreek, horse chestnut, Irish moss, mullein, osha, plantain, psyllium husk, etc. Plantain and dandelion greens can sometimes be found even underneath snow.
Apply the wet jelly poultice to a cloth or paper towel and apply another cloth or paper towel over the jelly and apply wet-side down on the area to be treated. Cover with plastic and leave in place a minimum of 2-4 hours for a maximum of 12 hours. A poultice needs to be changed a minimum of twice per day.
Did You Know?
Dr. John R. Christopher, American Herbalist, 1909 – 1983 recommended charcoal as one of the useful herbs for healing the condition of gangrene.
A plain poultice (AC and water only) is assembled and applied in the same manner, but will need to be kept moist with filtered, boiled, and then cooled water to remain effective. It is possible to mix with substances that swell with water like soaked oatmeal (especially ground) but this will still dry out and need repeated applications of purified water.
*To deal with circulating venom from bites and stings or toxins from infected wounds, AC must also be given internally to help with the removal of toxins.
Charcoal Bath – For multiple stings, scrapes, or poison ivy/oak, soak the injured limb(s). Add 2 cups of activated charcoal powder to a warm bath. Immerse body or limb for up to 1 hour.
Activated charcoal is not generally found in most first aid kits. You’ll be glad you took time to include this indispensable herb in your bug-out bag.
Keep reading to learn about the last (but not least) indispensable herb you will want to carry in your emergency supplies.
Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens) Powder
Cayenne comes form the dried pods of chili peppers. It is a pungent herb that can add flavor and a heat to food, but is that any reason to carry it around in your survival sack? Well, there’s a lot more to cayenne than its well-known ability to spice up one’s life. It is also a powerful medicinal herb that has been used for thousands of years. Read on to learn more.
If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than any other.
Dr. Richard Schulze ND, MH American Herbalist & Natural Healer
Cayenne is what is known in natural medicine as an herbal stimulant. “Stimulants quicken, excite and increase nervous sensibility, thereby stimulating energy in the body and enhancing its function. These herbs stimulate naturally, in contrast with unnatural drugs and alcohol which irritate and debilitate the system, and in the case of alcohol, depresses it. Stimulants increase the power of the pulse and carry blood to all parts of the body equalizing and restoring the circulation in all parts.”7
In addition to adding heat to the pepper, capsaicin acts to reduce platelet stickiness and relieve pain. Other constituents of cayenne are vitamins E, vitamin C and carotenoids. Today cayenne is used worldwide to treat a variety of health conditions, including poor circulation, weak digestion, heart disease, chronic pain, sore throats, headaches and toothache. Cayenne is the greatest herbal aid to circulation and can be used on a regular basis.”8
The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin (the active chemical) it contains, and the more capsaicin the pepper contains, the more potent and effective of a medicinal it will be. There is little medicinal effect in the cayenne spice purchased at the grocery store. As a spice, cayenne generally offers only about 34,000 HUs (heat units). To use medicinally, look for a minimum of 160,000 HUs, preferably 200,000 to 300,000 HUs or more as is found in African Bird cayenne or in Mexican Habanero.
Taken internally, “cayenne influences the heart immediately, then gradually extends its effects to the arteries, capillaries, and nerves. The frequency of the pulse is not increased, but it is given more power. In equalizing the bold circulation, cayenne produces natural warmth, and in stimulating the peristaltic motion of the intestines, it aids in assimilation and elimination. It rebuilds the tissue in the stomach. It also heals stomach and intestinal ulcers.”7
“Due to its high capsaicin and beta-carotene content, cayenne pepper is an excellent decongestant and expectorant. This makes it useful in cystic fibrosis where the transport of mucus is altered. It helps to loosen the sticky mucus and eases elimination. It reduces swelling and inflammation in the respiratory tract, improving breathing.”9Also, this thinning of mucus will help the mucus membranes throughout the body. It can be useful to open the airways with asthma, to clear the sinuses, nasal passages, lungs and urinary tract.
Cold, Stuffed Nose, Headache, Internal Bleeding, Cramps, Circulation, Blood Clots, Digestive Issues, Enzymes, Low or High Blood Pressure, MusclePain or Stiffness – Use ½-1 teaspoon to 1 cup hot water, steep 10 min, 2-3x per day.
Sore Throat – (same doses as above) taken as a gargle, repeat as needed.
Epilepsy –1 teaspoon 1x/per day.
In an emergency… Call 911 while you are preparing and giving or taking this remedy. It is not to be sipped it is to be “chugged.”
Cayenne is said to stop a heart attack in under a minute. It acts as a styptic internally as well as externally so it can stop bleeding such as happens in a stroke.
Stroke or Heart Attack, Chest Pain, Issues with Circulation, Shortness of Breath – Put 1 heaping teaspoon cayenne in 1 small cup warm or hot water (2 to 4 ounces water). Have the person “chug” it. It will be HOT/uncomfortable. If they sip it they may not get a sufficient dose. You can follow with extra pure water if desired. Repeat dose as needed.
Heart Attack– Put 1 heaping teaspoon cayenne OR 2 teaspoons of chili powder OR 3 teaspoons of finely ground black pepper (cayenne pepper works best – but use what you have) in 1 small cup warm or hot water (2 to 4 ounces water). Have the person “chug” it. It will be HOT/uncomfortable. If they sip it they may not get a sufficient dose. You can follow with extra pure water if desired. Repeat dose as needed.
Warning: Pregnant or nursing women and those using blood thinners, seizure medications and muscle relaxants should not use cayenne internally.
Sprinkle in Socks or on Feet and in Gloves/on Hands – Increases warmth and circulation. Do not touch your eyes if you get cayenne on your hands. Cayenne causes a burning sensation in the eyes, but will not harm them. In fact, cayenne is one of the healing herbs included in Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Eyebright Formula!
Inflammation, Joint/Arthritis Pain, Gout, Musculoskeletal (Acute Back & Neck) Pain, Slipped Disk, Neuropathy, – Mix 1 tablespoon to 4 tablespoons of cayenne powder with butter, oil, or a gel and massage area for 15 minutes 2x per day.
Wounds/Gangrene – Flush wound with clean water mixed with 1 teaspoon cayenne first, THEN pack with cayenne. It is styptic and will stop bleeding fast.
All of these conditions will benefit by taking cayenne both internally and externally. Internal “doses” for chronic conditions can be added to food, if desired.
*Internal or external burning sensations may cause discomfort, but they do not cause harm.
STEP #1 – Print your labels. These labels are formatted for a 10-per page (2″ x 4″) shipping label such as PRES-a-ply #30609 or Avery template #5163.
WAIT!! Do not fill the bags with herbs until steps 2 & 3 are complete!
STEP #2 – Attach each label to a small zip-lock snack bag. The salt and chia seed bags will only require one label each. The activated charcoal and cayenne snack bags will both need two labels. Place an ‘internal’ label on one side and a ‘topical’ label on the opposite side of each bag.
STEP #3 – Place a layer of clear packing tape over each label on the bags. This is to preserve the text from potential water damage.
STEP #4 – NOW add the herbs to the bags. (It is helpful to have an assistant hold each bag open while herbs are being added.)
STEP #5 – For extra protection, use a sandwich-sized zip-lock bag to double-bag the herbs, especially the activated charcoal and cayenne. If either of those two opened inside your bug-out bag that would be terrible.
STEP #6 – Place the herbs (including the double-bagged herbs) together inside a one gallon zip-lock bag within your BOB.
The key to using these herbs is to not have to solely rely upon them. They can be very effective used during the time it takes for emergency personnel to arrive or during transport to medical facilities.
There are literally thousands of herbs. Many are worthy of mention because they are helpful in so many different circumstances. The herbs chosen specifically for this article are those with a broad range of use that cannot quickly or easily be foraged for in a medical emergency.
The student of herbalism benefits by becoming well-acquainted with a number of common herbs. It is important to know how and where to forage for, process, and use these herbs for food and medicine. Here are a few of the most common, multi-use herbs to study: Yarrow (a favorite among herbalists for wounds and as a fever-reducer), plantain “the draw-er” and so much more, pine, burdock leaves and root, white oak bark, boneset, mullein, nettle, dandelion and so much more!
If you are interested in learning about the benefits of dandelion – the whole plant! – read our blog entitled: 3 Reasons to Love Dandelion
We hope you learned something new from this blog today. Do you have a bug-out bag for emergencies? Are there other herbs that you believe should be considered for emergency first-aid use? What herbs do you carry in your BOB? Comment below and tell us about it! We would love to hear from you.
Students attending Genesis School of Natural Health’s diploma programs are offered the opportunity to set up student accounts with vendors who offer high-quality professional remedials that are only available to the general public through a professional recommendation.
The purpose of these accounts is to allow the student to familiarize themselves with the different lines and types of products. By getting acquainted with the vendors, their varying product lines and literature, the proactive student, will be better equipped to ‘hit-the-ground-running’.
This allows for a quicker and less stressful business transition once diploma(s) have been earned while the business is taking form and expanding. Upon graduation, the student would reconnect with each vendor and comply with their requirements to upgrade to a professional account.
Individual supplements are discussed in many of our courses, so they will not be discussed here. Still, there are many different types of remedies from which to choose and some of our vendors have specialties that are worthy of discussion. Let’s consider what these are and how they work.
Drainage therapies are a very important part of the holistic health professional’s toolkit. They are often herbal extracts, but can also be found in homeopathic formulations. Drainage remedies are formulated to support organs, cellular processes, lymphatic movement and elimination of toxins.
Did you know that is possible to entirely avoid or greatly minimize a “healing crisis” by using drainage therapies and low-potency homeopathic remedies? Absolutely! By slowing down and using these types of remedies, the body is assisted with the elimination of waste and supported in the process of cellular regeneration.
To execute this properly, one must begin their use well in advance of any attempt to detoxify the person. It is recommended to reserve the utilization of high-potency homeopathics and nosodes until the client has undergone a sufficient period of nutritional rebuilding and preparatory detoxification that is both mild and gentle.
Biologicals are preparations derived from living organisms and their products. German biologicals are remedies designed to support the body in its attempt to rid itself of the toxicity of its tissues. By supporting the organs of elimination and the functionality of the GI tract (for adequate nutrient absorption) the body is then believed to heal from degenerative conditions in the reverse order that the dysfunction became apparent.
While German biologicals seem similar to “drainage remedies”, the method of attaining healthy body function and protocols differ.
Spagyric is a holistic method of processing herbs that involves first separation, then purification, and lastly reunification. This process produces very concentrated and pure herbal remedies which include both water and oil-soluble constituents, making the resulting product much more bioavailable, rich in minerals, and that also contain the most desirable properties of the entire herb.
When the digestive system is compromised, reach for Spagyrically-processed herbal remedies. These remedies are easily absorbed and therefore, do not tax a malfunctioning digestive system by requiring digestion. Spagyric botanicals offer a source of nutrition while working to rebuild and heal the gut.
Homeopathy is a gently, effective holistic health strategy that complements the ability of the body to heal itself. It uses natural remedials derived from animal, vegetable, and mineral substances that are non-toxic and without side-effects.
The homeopathic manufacturing process inactivates and removes dangerous source material but retains its energetic effects so that the remedy is safe for use. Homeopathy is backed by over 200 years of sound research and application. Unlike orthodox chemical terminology, homeopathy works through ionics, the natural low-frequency electromagnetics of the body.
Classic homeopathy uses single energetic remedies derived from one ingredient which is most often applied to remediate acute symptoms. Combination homeopathics are a mixture of single remedies of low potency. These are more suitably applied in the modern-day wake of chronic illness.
In addition to classic and combination homeopathic remedies; nosodes, sarcodes, and oligos are three types that are frequently used. A description of each directly follows, however, we will not cover all of the available types.
Nosodes – Homeopathic nosodes are weak dilutions of noxious substances. Nosodes work by interacting with the immune system at the cellular level. Nosodes cannot cause disease or side effects because of the extremely high levels of dilution.
There are those who incorrectly call nosodes ‘homeopathic vaccines”. This is not the case as a nosode acts differently than a vaccine. Additionally, nosodes are given either prior to or during an infection. It is interesting to note that the body actually responds much faster to a nosode than it does to a vaccine.
Nosodes “work according to classical homeopathic principles in that they stimulate the body’s response to similar disease processes. They do not work by directly challenging the body’s immunity to stimulate either cellular immunity or antibody production [as vaccines do]. The actual physiological mechanism of action has not yet been elucidated… however new physics research is showing that solutions made according to homeopathic principles, dilution and succussion, change the crystalline and electromagnetic nature of the water in which they are made.”1
Sarcodes – In homeopathy, sarcodes are derived from healthy tissue which serves as a type of an energetic pattern to the body and helps it “remember” how to correctly rebuild its cells, tissues and organs. The nutritional equivalent would be a glandular. (More about glandulars in just a bit.)
Oligos – Homeopathic oligos are ionically-charged trace minerals that effect the enzymatic function of the body at the cellular level. These elements regulate homeostasis by working to normalize blocked enzyme and disturbed hormonal functions. Unlike traditional homeopathics, oligos contain actual unsuccussed minerals. Like traditional homeopathics, these remedies are designed to be applied sublingually.
Whole Food Nutritional Remedies
While 98.97%  of the vitamins consumed are made up of synthetics or rocks, students of Genesis School of Natural Health may apply for a student account to access the most pure and unadulterated supplements on the market. There is nothing better than real food, whole food, and pure food nutrients for maintaining and rebuilding health.
This company’s closest competitor has sometimes been known to use porcine glandulars, add synthetics to their nutrient profile, use other than food-based minerals, and add colors.
The natural health professional can rest assured that the quality of these supplements far exceed that which can be found anywhere else in the industry.
Vitamins – “A vitamin is an organic compound necessary for the normal metabolism, growth, and vitality of a living organism. Vitamins, or “co-enzymes” as they are sometimes called, are critical cofactors that help to create enzymatic reactions in the body that break down proteins and build up tissues in the body.
Vitamins should not be thought of as simply ‘chemicals’, rather they are biological mechanisms that do not work independently, they work interactively. In nature, vitamins are always present in complexes with other vitamins and nutrients. They are never broken down into individual components prior to consumption as is the case with synthetic, lab-created ‘isolated’ supplements.”
Minerals – “Minerals are inorganic compounds relevant to human nutrition which are composed of substances that are neither plant or animal and that provide structure and function to every living cell. Minerals also function in the body as co-enzymes in a similar manner to vitamins.
Vitamins and minerals do not work in isolation. They often work together in groups and the deficiency of just one nutrient can cause a malfunction in the action of the group. For instance, think of the nutrients required for healthy bones. As we are all aware, calcium is necessary for healthy, strong bones and teeth. However, so are the correct proportions of vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, fluoride, phosphorus, chloride, copper, manganese, and sulfur. When just one of these nutrients are out of balance, the whole system suffers and ultimately the quality of bone material is weakened.
It is difficult to obtain the minerals the body needs from diet alone. Many years of conventional farming methods have depleted the topsoil of the vitamins, minerals, and microbiota that plants need to produce nutritious food. This makes supplementation a necessity for most people.”
Glandulars – “Glandulars or ‘protomorphogens’ are the salt extracts (mineral substrate) of mammalian gland tissue used to balance body chemistry and for regeneration of organs. They are generally derived from bovine (cow) or ovine (sheep) tissues and appear to work on the Homeopathic principle of “like cures like.” (e.g. If one has chronic lung issues, the lung glandular would be selected.)… Radioactive studies have found that the ingested glandular then concentrates in the same organ within the human test subjects as the ingested gland or organ.”
Unfortunately, there is no vegan substitute for glandulars. Thus, the healing process using vegan supplements will not be as fast as it is with the use of glandulars. Also homeopathic glandulars called sarcodes, while they have their place, do not work as efficiently as freeze-dried glandulars.
There are other types of supplements available through our recommended professional supplement vendors from a wide variety of herbal extracts such as tinctures, capsules and tablets to topical preparations.
Students in our Master Herbalist and Clinical Master Herbalist programs learn how to prepare their own herbal extracts and preparations. This important knowledge is critical to understanding the processes and formulas that supplement vendors use and helpful in ascertaining and ensuring therapeutic effect regardless of whether supplements are selected from a professional manufacturer or while crafting custom supplements for one’s own clientele.
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1-2 Serious Nutrition: Incorporating Clinically Effective Nutrition into Your Practice by Dr. Robert Thiel, Ph.D., Nutrition Scientist 3 Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements: Nutrient Sources, Functions, Symptoms of Deficiency & Toxicity, and more… by Darlene Jorgens 4 Homeopathic Nosodes: Vaccination Alternative? by Jessica Bourgeois
Many have heard of the well-known herbal adaptogens such as the Panax and American ginsengs, Eleuthero – which is sometimes called Siberian ginseng (although it is not actually a ginseng), Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and others.
In herbalism, the term adaptogen carries with it a very specific meaning. Adaptogens are herbs which are always safe and gentle and affect the body by impacting the way the adrenal glands respond to chronic (or ‘non-specific’) periods of stress.
“Adaptogens increase the state of non-specific resistance in stress and decrease sensitivity to stressors, which results in stress protection, and prolong the phase of resistance (stimulatory effect). Instead of exhaustion, a higher level of equilibrium (the homeostasis) is attained the heterostasis. The higher it is, the better the adaptation to stress. Thus, the stimulating and anti-fatigue effect of adaptogens has been documented in both in animals and in humans.”
Panossian, Alexander, and Georg Wikman. “Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity.” Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 3,1 188-224. 19 Jan. 2010, doi:10.3390/ph3010188
Herbalist David Hoffman says that while adaptogens help the body endure stress longer, theg are intended for the cessation of stress. The elimination of stress can occur in a variety of ways such as learning new techniques and skills to deal with the stressor(s) or some other type of change.
The purpose of adaptogens should not include doing nothing only to try to enable the body to take on stress indefinitely. If one chooses to use an adaptogen and do nothing about the stress, they will eventually burn out anyway.1 Herbal adaptogens are not meant to be a magic pill for stress avoidance.
Both chronic emotional stress and chronic infection(s) result in the ongoing release of cortisol and other steroidal glucocorticoids. Prolonged exposure to glucocorticoids can disrupt the interactions between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands (HPA axis).
The HPA axis is a neuroendocrine system that regulates digestion, the immune system, energy storage and expenditure, and influences our mood and emotions. HPA axis dysfunction increases the risk of depression, anxiety, digestive and sleep problems, headaches, weight gain or loss, and heart disease. Fatigue, muscular weakness, excessive free radicals, mitochondrial dysfunction and increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines are also associated with HPA axis dysfunction.”
“All adaptogens contain antioxidants and other phytochemicals that are beneficial for the prevention of disease, support during acute infections and chronic diseases (cancer, autoimmune conditions, etc.), and protection from toxins (chemo, radiation, environmental toxins, and internal toxins).”
Rhodiola rosea by Sharlene Peterson, Educational Administrator Genesis School of Natural Health
The key to the action of a genuine adaptogen is that it must support the neuroendocrine system, specifically the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and in doing so “modulate and regulate the use of cortisol, allowing the body to maintain a healthy stress response. They also help regulate and support the interconnected neuroendocrine and immune systems allowing the body to maintain optimal homeostasis.” (Adaptogens, Winston & Maimes 2007)
The popularity of the term “adaptogen” has become a type of buzzword useful in creating a market for ‘super oils’ known to have ‘balancing’ properties.
Although quite a number of essential oils do have balancing properties in one way or another – they generally do not meet the accepted criteria for adaptogens. Only one essential oil (at this point) is known to function as a true adaptogen. Yet oddly enough, it is relatively unheard of as an adaptogenic essential oil.
There is one essential oil, however, whose roots grow deeper and that reaches ‘head and shoulders’ above all other potential essential oil contenders in terms of its adaptogenic effect. That is none other than the lowly conifer, the Black Spruce.
Black Spruce (Picea mariana)
As a relatively slow-growing pine of the Canadian boreal forest. Black spruce is found prolifically across North America expanding as far north as Alaska and as far south as the Great Lakes.
Robert Tisserand writes that historically, a strong decoction of the young branches of Picea marinara was made into a beverage called ‘spruce beer’ that was imbibed when on board ships to ward off scurvy. (Essential Oil Safety 2nd ed., Tisserand & Young, 2014)
Black spruce is a relative newcomer on the essential oil scene. It has only been processed commercially since the 1960s. The essential oil, is steam distilled from the tips of its fresh cut branches (twigs and needles). It is sustainably harvested as a seasonal waste product of the logging industry primarily in eastern Canada in the autumn and again in the late winter and early spring each year.
Picea mariana is a gentle remedy for which there is no known cumulative toxicity in low doses. Oxidized oils are contraindicated (as always) because irritation may present with topical use. Generally, and at appropriate dilutions, black spruce is not irritating nor is it sensitizing. It has a deep woody and earthy scent, as fresh and crisp as the air of a conifer forest.
Black spruce, as a true adaptogen is predominantly a “systemic neuroendocrine-immune restorative and regulator” for the chronically debilitated and fatigued with conditions resulting from deficiencies and imbalances of the “pituitary/adrenal/thyroid/thymus/ovarian (and other endocrine)” systems. (Aromatica, Volume 1 by Peter Holmes, LAc, MH)
“Black spruce arguably displays the largest range of therapeutic effects among these valuable conifer oils…
European practitioners have long established good clinical results using Black spruce as a booster and regulator of the HPA axis (Penel 1990). Syndromes of adrenal dysregulation and fatigue may be improved at the core with its internal use. Positive results have included regulation of pituitary–thyroid and pituitary-gonadal functions showing this remedy to benefit functional hypothyroid conditions as well as female hormonal dysregulation in general. In addition, immune functions have shown both short-term and long-term improvement.
…Black spruce has emerged with a newer, larger clinical profile that warrants defining it as a true adaptogen, in the same league as the herbal remedies Rhodiola, the Ginsengs and others. Taking the premise that an adaptogenic effect must involve the core triangle of physiology – the nervous, endocrine and immune systems – and moreover must have an essentially broad regulating effect on virtually all endocrine glands, proving useful for an exceptionally wide range of weak conditions. Chronic fatigue syndrome is perhaps its most telling indication here, involving as it does long-term neuro-hormonal and immune deficiencies…
Black spruce should be included in a large variety of formulations addressing chronic deficiency and dysregulation.”
AROMATICA: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics, Volume 1 Peter Holmes LAc, MH
Kurt Schnaubelt identifies Picea mariana as a restorer of depleted adrenal glands further extolling its virtues as a topical substitute for morning coffee! (Advanced Aromatherapy, Kurt Schaubelt, Ph.D., 1998)
Suzanne Catty, professional aromatherapist and author of “Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy”, agrees. “In high-stress periods both the hydrolate and the oil can be used as an aromatic pick-me-up that can replace afternoon or evening coffee breaks.”
Black spruce can be a useful remedy for chronic infections, discouragement, menstrual disorders, mental fatigue/burnout, muscle aches and pains, and for weakened stamina. It may also help boost self-esteem and self-confidence, ease depression, balance weight issues, help with respiration (tight breathing), and increase general vitality and immunity.
Together, Scotch pine and Black spruce afford a wonderful synergy as an expectorant and respiratory revitalizer for chronic conditions such as emphysema and asthma. They are also a useful blend for immune deficiencies and the endocrine system.
At an emotional level Black spruce can be relied upon to ground, stabilize, and energize while connecting people back to their true thoughts and feelings. It is as centering as a meditative walk in the forest all the while recreating a sense of self, confidence and purpose.
If you have not had an opportunity to try Black spruce essential oil yet, you may want to get hold of some. Its many uses make it a valuable addition to every essential oil toolkit.
Essential oils (EOs) are exploding in popularity! Nearly every household has at least a few of them lying around and there is a quickly growing presence of us ‘lovers of all things aromatic’ diligently working on expanding our collections as quickly as our budget will allow while sharing the good news of aromatherapy everywhere we go! The delightful scents and medicinal properties of essential oils pique the interest of many who want to remediate ailments using natural means. What could be more perfect than these readily available delightfully-scented volatile oils?
The healing properties of essential oils are well-known. Yet the potency of these natural plant oils is often underestimated. There is important information available to learn about the safety of these oils and how to lower the risk of sensitization for ourselves and others while continuing to enjoy of these delightfully aromatic oils for years to come.
The following chart is designed to help us visualize the vast quantity of plant material involved in the production of essential oils. For instance, the oil of Rose Otto, Rosa damascena, takes two pounds of rose petals just to make just one drop! Two pounds of petals takes anywhere from 30 to 50 rose blossoms to manufacture!1 One 16-ounce pint of Rose Otto essential oil demands between 144,000 to 240,000 blossoms or 10,000 pounds of these precious petals!
The concentration of phytochemicals in a mere drop of any essential oil should receive a healthy dose of respect. Dilution with a carrier oil serves a crucial purpose in reducing the risk of applying neat (undiluted) essential oils. A quick look at the chart below reveals how radically a 2% dilution reduces the potency (although not necessarily the effectivity) of the herb.
A single drop of the concentrated essential oil of Rose Otto is the chemical equivalent of between 30 and 50 blossoms. However, one drop of a standard two percent dilution of Rose Otto will only have the chemical equivalent of one blossom at most.
More is not always better, especially when it comes to essential oils. What is best is getting just what our bodies need. No more and no less.
We live in a toxic world. Many folks, whether they realize it or not are struggling with toxicity. As wonderful as essential oils are, they are can add to the burden. Too much of anything can create or exacerbate a tox-‘sick’ state of being.
“Toxicity, or ‘the degree to which a substance can damage the body’ is dependent upon dose and does not require a substance to be formally labeled as a toxin; ‘even water can lead to water intoxication when taken in too high a dose’ (‘Toxicity’, 2015). Toxicity can be caused by a single very high exposure, or by long-term exposure, but the net effect is that the body’s detoxification systems are overwhelmed.”2
Development of an Essential Oil Sensitivity
Typically, immune responses are caused by large protein molecules such as those found in foreign invaders or infectious agents. It is a commonly held fallacy that essential oils cannot cause allergic reactions because they do not contain proteins. While correct in that essential oils do not have proteins, the fallacy is dangerously incorrect because essential oils do cause allergic reactions. Here is why.
Haptens are very tiny, low molecular weight molecules that may bind to larger molecules such as proteins and other things like pharmaceutical drugs. In the case of essential oils, they bind to Langerhans cells which are specialized cells integral to the skin’s immune system. By themselves, haptens cannot cause an immune response, however, once they are attached to a larger carrier molecule, the carrier/hapten molecule (now called an adduct) migrates into the lymphatic system.
“Langerhans cells (LC) are members of the dendritic cells family, residing in the basal and suprabasal layers of the epidermis and in the epithelia of the respiratory, digestive and urogenital tracts. They specialize in antigen presentation and belong to the skin immune system (SIS). LC acquire antigens in peripheral tissues, transport them to regional lymph nodes, present to naive T cells and initiate adaptive immune response.”3
Once the Langerhan cells present these adducts to the T-cells, the T-cells mount a quick immune response against these viruses, bacteria, invaders, or other toxins such as the essential oil hapten/adducts.
Foreign proteins and any protein with a hapten attached are called antigens. They are quickly recognized by the T-cells. This recognition process is done when “T-cells probe the surface of other cells, examining materials scooped from inside the cell and presented by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules on the surface of the cells.”4
After T-cells have probed an antigen, they can then recognize it and are able to rapidly multiply a large number of identical cells (clones) with the same antigen receptor as the original. Thereby, mounting an immune defense on behalf of the body.
Urushiol, the toxin in poison ivy is a common example of a hapten. Urushiol is absorbed into the skin and within the skin, oxidizes and attaches to the skin’s own proteins which forms the antigen. From there it is found by the T-cell, probed until recognized, then T-cells multiply in the lymph node and from there urushiol causes an immune reaction b(in this case on the skin) because of the body’s ability to recognize it in all subsequent exposures.
Although first exposure by which an essential oil has not yet been identified by the body as an antigen does not result in an allergic reaction. It is possible that subsequent exposures will. This process is called sensitization and the reaction that comes from it is called hypersensitivity.
“Once sensitization occurs, you will have a lifelong reaction to the allergic agent,’ Dr. Palm says. ‘Additionally, future exposures to the allergy-causing essential oil will cause more severe skin reactions.’ Those who fall within the ‘atopic triad’—or those with atopic dermatitis, eczema, seasonal allergies, and asthma—are much more likely to develop allergic contact dermatitis. Women are also more prone to these reactions than men, she says, due to an underlying hormonal cause, ‘which is likely a contributing factor to this difference.”5
Paracelsus, a pioneer of the Renaissance “medical revolution”, said that ‘the dose makes the poison’ (toxin). When the body is overwhelmed by a substance it seeks to preserve itself. Allergic reactions should be considered warning signs.
Herbalism considers the essential oil to be more concentrated than the tincture (generally an alcohol-based extract). Yet the essential oil does not contain all of the constituents of the tincture. This means that an essential oil will not have all of the balancing phytochemicals of the whole plant.
What essential oils do contain are only the molecules with the lightest weight that can transfer during the distillation process. Whenever the chemicals of plants are reduced through processing, certain balancing factors found in the whole range of phytochemicals are altered. This results in an increased risk of side-effects.
There is no getting away from it. In the search for natural remedies, even essential oils break down into… chemicals. When applied in their very concentrated form, the body at some point can be expected to identify the substance as a toxin and react to it. While it is desirable to foster heath, this is not always the case.
Lower the Risk of an Allergic Reaction
> Use only oils that are suitable for different life stages Young children and the elderly tend to be more sensitive, therefore, certain essential oils are not suitable. Also, due to hormonal fluctuations and the development of the child in utero and while an infant, those who are pregnant and lactating are advised to use only those oils deemed safe and in a safe manner during those times.
> Use proper dilutions of essential oils The stronger the “dilution” the higher the risk. The highest risk occurring with neat (undiluted) topical applications and ingestion. Recommended dilution percentages will vary according to the potency of the essential oil.
> Vary your essential oil choices Using essential oils (even when diluted) every day for weeks and months on end could trigger an allergic reaction. It is best to change the oils on a regular basis or even discontinue use for a period of time. Listen to your body.
> Frequent daily applications multiply total daily exposure The following visuals demonstrate that frequent applications of essential oils quickly and exponentially increase the amount of plant chemicals to meet or exceed what is found in a single drop of neat Rose Otto essential oil.
This is shared simply to draw attention to the fact that many repeated applications of any essential oil have the potential to overwhelm the body. People seldom use only four drops of diluted 2% essential oils topically as in this example. There is also a therapeutic benefit to spacing out the applications. Small diluted doses add up.
Massage therapists using essential oil blends on their clients have an increased potential for an adverse reaction. Moderation is key to continued enjoyment of the many benefits of essential oils.
One might think that a delicate essential oil such as Rose Otto carries less potency than Cinnamon Bark or Clove (both known to be strong oils that are likely to cause skin irritation) but this is not true. While Rose Otto is not as irritating, it is plenty “potent” as is Lavender or the Chamomiles, etc. The constituents of essential oils vary, so their respective benefits differ.
> Parts add up Many oils share some of the same chemical constituents. When using blends and making dilutions, one should take into consideration the increased amounts or select oils with different components that offer the desired effect.
One chemical, a monoterpene called 1,8-cineol, Cineole or Eucalyptol can be found in the essential oils of basil, eucalyptus, melaleuca (tea tree), peppermint, rosemary and sage. At high levels, this monoterpene has been found to be toxic. 1,8-cineol makes up a whopping 80% of eucalyptus and about 44% of rosemary essential oils. It is significantly less in the other plant species listed.
While it is perfectly fine to blend these oils, be sure to utilize the other risk limiting factors such as dilution, frequency of use, etc.
> More is not the answer Not everyone will have their condition(s) remediated by using certain essential oils or blends. The complexity of our bodies is beyond simply replacing the pharmaceutical “red pill or blue pill” with a natural remedy such as an essential oil.
In this instance it can be beneficial to seek out a natural health professional able to assist with the necessary lifestyle changes, systemic support and corrections. There are a number of these professionals fluent in the application of aromatherapy as well as other healing modalities.
> It is not recommended to ingest essential oils. You will find many different opinions on this topic and undoubtedly form your own, but keep in mind that foods containing essential oils do so only in very minute amounts. Even one drop of an essential oil can be too strong. In addition to potential allergic reactions, ingested essential oils can interfere with medications.
While ingestion may be professionally endorsed under certain circumstances, it has potential to increase the risk of hypersensitivity and is generally not recommended. Do not consume orally, apply topically, and diffuse all the same time. This is more likely to overwhelm the body.
> Certain essential oils are more likely to elicit an allergic response:
Photo-irritation (photo-sensitivity) may occur with the use of citrus oils such as: bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange. Additionally, citrus oils are not well-tolerated while bathing because the skin’s pores become larger, allowing more of the essential oils into the skin.
Contact dermatitis is most likely to be caused by: balsam of Peru, cassia, cinnamon bark, clove, jasmine absolute, lemongrass, oregano, peppermint, sandalwood, tea tree, and ylang-ylang, etc.
It is also possible to be allergic to the carrier oil in which an essential oil is diluted. However, “very few adverse reactions are caused by impurities in an essential oil. Even if they are there, they are usually not present in sufficient concentration to cause a safety risk, and even impurities are not necessarily toxic. Almost all adverse reactions can be explained by the natural constituents present in an essential oil. Oregano oil is a potential skin irritant because of its 70-80% content of carvacrol, which is an irritant. Cinnamon bark oil is a potential allergen because it consists of 65-80% cinnamaldehyde – a known allergen. Bergamot oil is phototoxic because it contains 0.3% of bergapten, a potent photosensitizer. And, even the “purest” essential oil may be prone to oxidation that further increases the risk of adverse reaction.”7
If you think you may be experiencing an allergic reaction, simply STOP!!! Stop using all essential oils. Do not even diffuse them. Do not try to correct a potential allergy to an essential oil with the use of another essential oil.
Essential oils are a wonderful gift. Use them prudently and expect to reap the can benefits for years to come.
Everyone knows what a dandelion is! The very young discover its stunning bright yellow flowers as they begin to explore their outdoor worlds. Its flowers are often gifted. The bouquet of the ‘littles’ presented to young mothers and grandmothers – and often without stems. Yet not everyone knows the absolute gold mine that dwells within this passionately loved… and sometimes equally despised humble plant.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a herbaceous perennial which “has a basal rosette of pinnately lobed leaves and a hollow stalk that supports a single head with many small, yellow, strap-shaped flowers (the tiny flowers collectively appear to be a single, large flower). The small seed-like fruits are born on a common receptacle and are tipped by an elongate, narrow beak, to which are attached an array of white bristles, which aid in wind dispersal. The leaves and flower stalks yield a white latex when bruised.”1
Dandelion is the low-growing cousin of the sunflower family. It is native to both Western Europe and the Mediterranean, but has now spread (by wind, bird, or settler) to every temperate climate. It prefers to grow in grassy locations and cultivated ground. Basically, wherever people are, dandelions are. This is perfect, because whether one knows it or not, we… need… dandelion.
Dandelion Improves the Soil!
More than the occasional dandelion is a sign of poor, deteriorated soil conditions. Dandelion prefers full sun and is tolerant of poor growing conditions. Its taproot can grow from six to 18 inches deep. This helps to break up compacted soil by drilling down into the earth, which both aerates and also draws minerals up into the topsoil where its shallow-rooted plant neighbors can benefit. In this way, dandelion conditions and prepares the soil, making it easier for other more delicate plant species to take hold and receive the nutrients they require.
Gardeners gain additional benefits by cultivating dandelion in their gardens as it attracts pollinating insects and also releases ethylene gas which assists fruit in ripening.
Who would have thought? All this from the lowly dandelion. A mighty tool designed to bring healing and restoration to the earth’s soil.
Dandelion is Nutritious Food!
One of the earliest plants to bloom in the spring, dandelion is a critical food source for pollinators, especially honey bees.
Dandelion is also an important source of food for herbivores such as deer and rabbits. Likewise, a variety farm animals actively seek out dandelion. They instinctively know that after a long winter their bodies need the powerhouse nutritional ‘superfood’ that this unassuming herb so generously provides.
In the Netherlands, the common name for dandelion is “paardebloem”, which when translated means “horse flower”. Thename “horse-flower first appeared in 1906 as a general accepted name in the book “Dutch plant names” of Henry Heukels. The name probably originated because of the fact that horses (also rabbits and pigs) love to eat the leaves of this plant and that it was commonly used as feed. Sometimes it was even named ‘horse-lettuce’.”2
Any horse pasture will soon find itself cleared of dandelion’s little yellow disks as equines actively seek them out. After a long winter and the nutritionally-depleted stored hay of late spring just before first cutting is ready, dandelion greens serve to cleanse the blood of all who will partake.
However, dandelion is not only for animals. Back in the day, in the late winter before it was time to plant spring gardens, common folk knew to forage for the early-producing greens such as dandelion.
The modern newbie forager can heave a sigh of relief that dandelion has no poisonous look-alikes. So there is no reason to hold back. Dandelion is one amazing herb that everyone can confidently get their hands on!
As a young girl, I remember my mother digging dandelions in the early spring to remove them from our yard. She saved the green leaves and prepared them for dinner. At our house, we ate them just one way. Mom would pan fry some bacon, then add the dandelion greens to the pan until they were well wilted. Then she would serve them with a little apple cider vinegar.
NOTE: Never consume dandelions that are growing near or have been contaminated with lawn fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, or any other chemicals.
Buds (unopened flowers) – Salads, stir fry, etc.
Flowers – Snack, salads, wine. Try your hand at mixing the yellow petals into softened butter with a touch of added honey for a delicious treat on bread and muffins!
Leaves – Salads (the youngest leaves are always the sweetest). When they become more bitter: sauté, add to soups, use as a pot herb, casseroles, mix with other greens in pesto, etc. The greens can also be used as a spinach substitute in any recipe.
Dandelion leaves are delicious and rich in nutrients. The raw leaves contain vitamins: A, thiamine (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pyridoxine (B-6), folate (B-9), C, E, K, and the minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, and selenium.
HINT: To reduce the bitter taste of the older leaves either cook them like a potherb in one change of water and/or add a dash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
Crowns (The part between the root and the leaves.) – Can be sautéed or fried.
Roots – As a root vegetable process the dandelion root in a similar manner to a mature beet which has a thick outer layer. Steam for 2 minutes, put in cool water, then easily peel the outer skin of off the taproot as it is bitter. Next, place the cleaned roots in a pan of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until soft. It is delicious served with butter with a taste similar to a parsnip.
The root of the dandelion contains one of the best sources of inulin (a plant fiber) which is considered a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Inulin also provides a feeling of fullness and clears the body of cholesterol.
To make a coffee-like beverage dandelion root can be roasted and ground, then used as a tea.
To prepare the root for roasting, thoroughly wash and dry them then chop them into small bits. Next, spread the root thinly on a baking sheet and place it in the oven at 250–300 degrees. Stir every 15 minutes to roast evenly. The roasting process will likely take anywhere from one and a half to two hours to be complete. During this time the color will develop into a rich brown and the roasted roots will give off a fragrant aroma.
When done, cool and store the root in a glass container. Use a coffee grinder, Vitamix, or blender to grind up the roasted dandelion into grounds and add to coffee, or make a tea.
Roasted dandelion root is enjoyable in combination with other herbs such as chicory root, cacao, ginger, vanilla, or cinnamon to name a few. Here’s a recipe for you to enjoy:
Darlene’s Mocha Delight!
~ A Delicious, Health-Promoting Coffee Substitute ~
1 Cup Dandelion Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
1 Cup Chicory Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
1 Heaping TSP Cacao, powdered
1/4 TSP Powdered Cinnamon
In a pint jar, combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Label and store with a secure lid.
Add 1/2 – 1 scant teaspoon (more or less as desired) to a tea infuser for each 8 to 16 ounces of water. (I like to use large coffee mugs for my tea!)
Pour boiling hot water over the tea and allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes for a delicious “coffee-substitute” beverage. Steep longer – 10 to 15 minutes or steep the first tea a second time to draw out more nutrients and increase the health benefits.
Be sure to add some almond milk, coconut milk, or a maybe a little of both and you are good to go. There is a natural sweetness to this recipe that does not require additional sweeteners. It is great cold as the “chocolaty” taste seems to increase as it cools. Yum.
“Coffee people” and “non-coffee” people are pleasantly surprised when they try this hot beverage. It is satisfying, delicious, and provides a nutrient boost the body really craves.
Dandelion leaves and roots do not have the same nutrient composition. The nutrient analysis below will reveal some of the major differences. The data provided is in 100 grams of dandelion leaf or root, respectively. Where information is blank no data was provided.
Indications – LEAF: As a diuretic, dandelion leaf is preferable to the root. “Dandelion leaf is a powerful diuretic, with an action comparable to that of the drug furosemide. The usual effect of a drug that stimulated kidney function is loss of vital potassium from the body, which can aggravate any cardiovascular problem that may be present. Dandelion leaf, however, is not only an effective diuretic, but also one of the best natural sources of potassium. It is thus an ideally balanced remedy that may be used safely whenever diuretic action is needed, even for water retention related heart problems. Overall, this herb is a most valuable general tonic and perhaps the best widely applicable diuretic and liver tonic.”3
Indications – ROOT: Dandelion root (not the leaf) should be selected for conditions associated with:
> Liver and gallbladder such as inflammation, congestion, chronic jaundice, and high cholesterol.
> Autointoxication which occurs when “the waste products of metabolism, decomposed matter from the intestine, or the products of dead and infected tissue, as in gangrene” are not properly eliminated from the body.4
> Aphthous ulcers canker sore-type ulcers commonly located in the mouth, genitals, or intestines.
> Digestive disturbances like loss of appetite, chronic gastritis, constipation, or diarrhea.
> Used topically for skin disorders (acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and boils) the milky white latex “sap” is alkaline which may help curb itching skin and eczema. In addition, its anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties may reduce acne-causing bacteria and other skin infections. The latex appears to speed the healing of scars and the red inflammation caused by acne. Dandelion sap also seems to work very well with sensitive skin, although for those allergic to plants in the Asteracae family, dandelion would be contraindicated.
> Diabetes may be helped by stimulating insulin sensitivity as well as insulin production by the pancreas which aids in controlling blood sugar levels.
> Certain Autoimmune conditions and blood disorders such as rheumatism and anemia.
NOTE: When using herbs medicinally, always be sure they are organic or responsibly wildcrafted. Wildcrafted herbs should be gathered in areas distant from chemical spraying or ‘drift’ that occurs from conventional crop pesticide use.
Have you ever gardened with, eaten, or used dandelion medicinally? Have you tried one of these suggestions above as a result of reading this post? Tell us your experience in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!
Ancestral Plants: A Primative Skills Guide to Important Edible, Medicinal, and Useful Plants of the Northeast – Volume 1 by Arthur Haines p.184
Before antibiotics, it is estimated that 50 percent of people died from infections. Now, after 75 years of use, statistics reveal that every year at least 2.8 million people are hospitalized with an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, which according to 2019 statistics result in at least 48,700 deaths in the United States alone.1 It is worth mentioning 5 percent of hospital patients (about 2 million) who are admitted for routine procedures become infected at some point during their stay.
How’d We Get Here?
Discovered by Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming in 1928, by the mid 1940’s, penicillin, a mold-derived antibiotic became available for commercial use. “In 1945 the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was awarded to Alexander Fleming and Howard Florey for their discovery of the antibiotic substance benzylpenicillin from the mould Penicillium notatum.”2
The threat of microbial resistance to antibiotics is rapidly increasing each year with devastating effects. These “superbugs” are outracing the drug industry’s ability to keep up with the need. While it may take a human 20 years to reproduce offspring, a bacterium such as E. coli can replicate every twenty minutes!
We’ve Known About this for Nearly 100 Years!
Bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, should not come as a surprise. In his book Herbal Antibiotics, Steven Harrod Buhner writes “Dr. Fleming noted as early as 1929 in the British Journal of Experimental Biology that numerous bacteria were already resistant to the drug he had discovered, and by 1945 he warned in a New York Times interview that improper use of penicillin would inevitably lead to the development of resistant bacteria.”
How Does It Happen?
Antibiotic resistance occurs because bacteria are able to share genetic material just by being in close proximity to one another. The genetic material is communicated very quickly in little packages called plasmids.
The word antibiotic when broken down simply means anti ‘against’ and biotic ‘life’. At its core an antibiotic’s design is to function ‘against life’. Its use is intended to kill off certain problematic bacteria. However, antibiotics annihilate most microbes in their path. Microbes have the ability to adapt to hostile elements such as antibiotics while remaining in their environment. What a statement to resiliency in life.
It is alarming how many bacterial species are still becoming resistant to the group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones (‘fluoro’ because they contain fluoride) that can cause very debilitating side-effects.
One example, Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) is a lab-derived chemical structure used as a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Cipro’s “superpower” is that it can destroy anthrax bacillus anthracis bacteria as well as eliminate many other varieties of bacteria (including the helpful ones) because it targets an enzyme essential for DNA transactions that is common to all bacteria.
Intent to keep ahead of the rapidly mutating bacteria, pharmaceutical companies have modified the chemical structure of fluoroquinolones but have been mostly unsuccessful. The Merck Manual states “Many newer fluoroquinolones have been withdrawn from the US market because of toxicity; they include trovafloxacin (because of severe hepatic toxicity), gatifloxacin (because of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia), grepafloxacin (because of cardiac toxicity), temafloxacin (because of acute renal failure, hepatotoxicity, hemolytic anemia, coagulopathy, and hypoglycemia), and lomefloxacin, sparfloxacin, and enoxacin.”3
The most well-known use of antibiotics occurs as a medicine when a person suffering from a microbial infection visits a hospital or doctor. “A national survey of antibiotic use done by CDC’s Emerging Infections Programs identified key opportunities to reduce inappropriate use. This study found that two out of three antibiotics in hospitals are given for three conditions: pneumonia, urinary tract infections (including bladder and kidney infections), and skin infections.”4
In another study done in 2016, “CDC experts found that overall rates of antibiotic use in U.S. hospitals did not change from 2006-2012. More than half of patients received at least one antibiotic during their hospital stay. However, there were significant changes in the types of antibiotics prescribed with the most powerful antibiotics being used more often than others.”5
Due to the overuse of antibiotics the threat of antibiotic-resistant microbes looms large in the healthcare industry. The following three-page document linked to the image below is offered for your convenience. The data has been provided by the CDC.
The antibiotic discovered by Alexander Fleming was derived from the mold Penicillium chrysogenum. This mold naturally produces the antibiotic with the familiar name, penicillin. Industrially produced by fermentation, penicillin is known to have a high therapeutic index that does not negatively effect human cells.
The modern production of antibiotics now occurs in a lab by one of two methods. The first, semi-synthetic production includes natural fermentation plus laboratory involvement of adding an amino group (NH2) to the R group of penicillin. One result from this production method is the well-known antibiotic named ampicillin.
The second ‘synthetic’ method of antibiotic production occurs solely in a lab. There are no natural antibiotic substances used. The quinalone class of antibiotics are made in this way.
The overuse (misuse) of antibiotics in medicine, is considered a primary cause of antibiotic resistance, however, it is only one of three major routes of exposure. Another that deserves a serious look are the animal husbandry practices that affect our meat supply.
Factory Farmed Animals…
Antibiotics added to animal feed have been used in farming to cause animals to grow bigger and faster by converting the same amount of feed into muscle more quickly.
They are also used to counter the stress that animals are placed under when expected to grow in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. The constant stress of these conditions breaks down the animal’s immune system making it more prone to disease that ultimately will require antibiotics.
Antibiotics fed to animals affects the bacteria in their body as well. Antibiotic-resistant microbes lodge in their bones and meat and cause imbalances in gut microbes, just as with humans.
When people ingest antibiotic-resistant bacteria via improperly cooked meat and become ill, they may not respond favorably to antibiotic treatment.
Antibiotic-resistant microbes can enter the human or animal microbiome orally, via injection, or through inhaled by aerosolization. What is especially disturbing is that antibiotic resistant organisms are finding their way into the remotest areas of the earth. While three percent of wild penguins have antibiotic-resistant bacteria, close to 50 percent of captive penguins in Antarctica have been identified with it.
“In one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on February 6, 2002, researchers found links that strongly suggested that the people who developed Cipro-resistant bacteria had acquired them by eating pork that were contaminated with salmonella. The report concluded that salmonella resistant to the antibiotic fluoroquine can be spread from swine to humans, and, therefore, the use of fluoroquinolones in food animals should be prohibited.”6
“Another New England Journal of Medicine study from Oct. 18, 2001, found that 20 percent of ground meat obtained in supermarkets contained salmonella. Of that 20 percent that was contaminated with salmonella, 84 percent was resistant to at least one form of antibiotic.”6
Australian scientist Michelle Power states, “about three-quarters of the antibiotics that humans take are actually excreted, ending up in wastewater systems. Places where antibiotics are manufactured are also potential avenues for escape of antibiotics. And then there are the times when animals are taken into care, or raised in captivity and exposed to humans, and then released into the wild. ‘We are seeing a variation in the prevalence [of antibiotic-resistant bacteria] across different wildlife species but why that is the case, we are not sure”.7
Still there is another mode of exposure that is equally as significant yet has been largely ignored. Antibiotics have been routinely used for decades to control bacterial and fungal diseases in plants.
In a study published in CABI Agriculture and Bioscience, Dr. Philip Taylor and his researchers “found that 11 antibiotics (often blended together) are being recommended on crops grown in the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim countries…
There is considerable attention paid to the medical and veterinary use of antibiotics, but there is a paucity of data on their use in global crop production. The only well-documented use of antibiotics on crops is that on top fruit in the U.S. These data appear to indicate that the use of antibiotics in crop production is more extensive than most of the literature would suggest.”8
Vegetables grown in unfertilized soil were equally shown to harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance determinants that naturally occur in soils. 9, 10
Not only are these crop-sprayed antibiotics that are making their way into the food supply of people and animals, the earth’s waterways are being contaminated through runoff and the microbiome of the soil is being disrupted throughout the world.
The Root of the Problem
The isolation of plant constituents separate out a natural chemical that can be patented and manufactured or synthesized in a laboratory to create a product with more problems than it generally solves. These ‘problems’ are called as side-effects. However, in the case of antibiotics there are also effects on bacteria, fungus, or even enzymes whose response has been changed due to frequent and excessive antibiotic exposure.
How “Antibiotic” Herbs Can Help
An herbal remedy generally consists of one or more plants and the entirety of their chemical makeup. These chemicals are uniquely designed to work in unique synergistic combinations as both an offense and a defense that the plant needs to flourish in its life-cycle.
Over 5,000 distinct plant constituents (the chemical parts of plants) have been identified to date, however, there are thousands more that have yet to be identified. A single plant can have anywhere from 200 to 3,000 constituents! The complexity is simply mind-boggling.
How this natural synergistic combination of plant chemicals work, is unique to each herb and multiplied exponentially when various herbs are used together. The mechanisms of how this works is a wonderful mystery that is only just beginning to become unraveled.
The action of herbs is not antibiotic (against life) in the truest sense of the word. Herbs are considered anti-microbial in a much broader sense as they may affect bacterium, fungi, and even protozoa yet do not destroy those organisms beneficial to the body and its vitality. Perhaps they could better be thought of as “smart herbs”. How they differentiate is amazing, but unknown.
A study published in the May 2015 Global Advances in Health and Medicine Journal offered 104 patients with Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) their choice of either four weeks of antibiotic (rifaximin) or herbal therapy.
The herbs used in the herbal therapy were a proprietary mix of Oregano Origanum vulgare, Wormwood Artemisia absinthium, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis, Goldthread Coptis chinensis root, Indian Barberry Berberis aristata root extract, Horsetail Equisetum arvense L., Thyme Thymus vulgaris, and Olive Olea europaea.
The results were encouraging as the research found that “Herbal therapies are at least as effective as rifaximin for resolution of SIBO by LBT. Herbals also appear to be as effective as triple antibiotic therapy for SIBO rescue therapy for rifaximin non-responders.”11 ‘Rescue therapy’ is the term used in this study when the first 4-week course of rifaximin did not resolve the patient’s SIBO and the patient then chose the four-week herbal therapy.
Antimicrobial herbs have properties which are active against two or more groups of pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, etc. There are many herbs with antimicrobial properties. The following is a short list of herbs with demonstrated antimicrobial actions. There are many more that have not been included.