The temperature is perfect. The birds are singing. A light breeze blows by. Its beautiful out here. There are so many plants, trees and flowers.
I’ve been walking for hours. About 2 hours ago the head ache started. Now, my head is throbbing with every step. And my legs haven’t seen this much exercise since… well, never!
If only… is that…? Yes, its a birch tree. Good thing I took that course in herbology.
A few minutes later I’m sipping on some lovely birch bark tea. The head ache is almost gone, and my leg muscles are feeling so much better.
Herbalism (aka herbology or herbal medicine) is the use of plants for medicinal purposes. This is nothing new. In fact, its roots (pun intended) date back to the beginning of humankind. The first written record of herbs used as medicine dates back to over 5000 years ago, in ancient Mesopotamia.
Today, over 120 different drugs are derived from plants. For example Sennosides, a laxative, comes from the fruit, leaves and bark of the canafistula tree. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of these growing in my back yard.
Given the choice between an all natural plant and a chemically synthesized drug, I’ll take the plant. You may recall, that vitamins and minerals in nature always come packaged together with everything our bodies need to use them. This is also the case with herbal supplements made exclusively from the plant.
In that article about vitamins and minerals, we also talked about how the soil in the U.S. today, is nutrient impoverished. This means that herbal supplements are not all created equal. Before I pop an herbal supplement in my mouth, I’d like to be sure it is high quality, and worth the money I’m paying for it.
So where should I buy my herbal supplements from?
In my humble (and experienced) opinion, the top two companies for herbal supplements are Premier Research Labs and Standard Process. Both of these companies go through incredible lengths to ensure their products are made from the best herbs possible on the planet. Standard Process grows their own plants. They control their process from seed to bottled supplements. Premier travels the globe to get the best plants possible. Both companies perform frequent clinical testing on their products to ensure the highest quality is maintained.
With this tremendous level of quality comes a small catch. Both Premier and Standard Process will only sell their products to qualified herbal practitioners. This is inconvenient for me at times. I like to order things on the web and have them shipped to me. At the same time, I find it very reassuring. These companies value the quality of their products so highly, that they go the extra mile to ensure that quality, all the way into my mouth. Ok, maybe just into my hands.
As much as I love both of these companies (and they have not paid me a penny to say that … yet), I often purchase herbal products from other companies as well.
There are several products that I use on a regular basis, that I get from Dr. Schultz. I can order his products on the web and have them shipped directly to my door. When I want something right now, my local health food store carries NOW and Solaray – both excellent companies with excellent products.
I am sure there are many more companies making excellent herbal products. The ones I have mentioned, I have personally used.
If you want to purchase from Premier or Standard Process, you’ll need to find an approved herbal practitioner. Both companies can provide you a list of practitioners in your area.
To learn more about herbology or to find an herbologist, I like to start with the schools that teach this modality of holistic healthcare.
According to the Education Portal, the 2 best herbology schools in the U.S. are Bastyr University in Washington State, and Maryland University of Integrative Health in Maryland. The education portal lists several additional excellent schools for herbalism.
In the world of academia, there are accrediting organizations that say, “yes this school is teaching correct information”. The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, establishes requirements for schools teaching herbalism.
Let’s take this even further.
Many professions have certifying organizations that say “yes, this person knows what they’re doing”. The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) requires applicants to pass rigorous exams in order to become certified.
Just in case that isn’t enough…
The NCCAOM is accredited by the National Commission for Certification Agencies (NCCA) – an accrediting organization, indirectly established by the federal government.
Occasionally I meet people who tell me there is no validity to herbal healthcare. I bet you’ve meet those people too. With everything you now know, it won’t be hard for you to thank them for their opinion and walk away (with a smile on your face).
Paul Levin is the father of two, now grown children, in Tampa, Florida. At age 33 his first baby was born – a beautiful baby girl, Jessica. Two years later his 2nd child, a healthy strong boy, Daniel. Paul worked most of his carrier as a computer engineer, including through the horrific events that happened to his daughter. At every opportunity, Paul shares the experiences that lead him to learn first hand, of the benefits of holistic healthcare.
That event began a journey that would profoundly affect my life. Now that my kids are grown and I have time to give back, its time I share some of the things I’ve learned (and continue to learn), in hopes of having a profound affect on your life. ~ Paul