Herbs and Miracles

A few years ago, I came across a woman that was struggling with a blood sugar imbalance that was increasing menopausal symptoms. As I talked with her, I mentioned that I knew of some dynamic nutritional and herbal approaches that could bring her system into balance. She responded curiously saying that she only wanted God’s healing. She did not want to take anything nutritionally or use any herbs because it would take glory away from God. She was standing believing for a miracle. This stand did not allow her to believe that God may heal her with a natural substance. She believed that if she recovered by taking an herb, created by God for healing and health, somehow that would take glory away from the miraculous power of God to heal. Scurvy, beriberi, and pellagra are deadly diseases in which people prayed and prayed for God to intervene and heal. God may have miraculously intervened to restore some, but His true answer came when it was understood that these diseases, among many others, are caused by nutritional (vitamin) deficiencies. Beriberi, for instance, is a nervous system ailment caused by a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1) in the diet. Thiamine was first discovered as researchers were seeking a cure for beriberi. We did not see much beriberi until the creation of white bread. God included dynamic whole vitamin complexes and nutrients in grains. However, we stripped away these nutrients from the grain (mainly found in the germ and bran) when we created white bread. White bread seemed wonderful because it looks nice and clean, has a longer shelf life and can rise easily. Yet, it became deadly because it lacked thiamine and other nutrients. Than man in all his wisdom decided not to simply replace the bran and germ, which would again provide the wonderful host of nutrients first put into the grain by God, rather to “enrich” it with a handful of fragmented and isolated chemicals called vitamins. This did cure beriberi, but white bread remained deficient which gave rise to Candida, yeast infections, diabetes, obesity and many degenerative diseases. The point is that God provided us wonderful nutritional cures and to avoid a God given answer while seeking a miracle is, in my opinion, to hold Him in contempt. Does God still perform miracles and instant healings? Indeed yes! I have witness very dynamic and miraculous interventions. When I was in my teens, I played bass in traveling Christian music group. After one concert, we were all praying for people in the crowed and a young girl came up to me and held up her finger that was covered with a bloody gauze bandage. I asked what happened and she said that she smashed it in a car door that afternoon. With the boldness and arrogance of youth, I said that God can heal that right now. Inside my head I was thinking I must be crazy. I laid my hand on the finger and prayed. After the prayer, I asked her to take off the bandage. Her finger was totally cured without even the trace of a wound. On another occasion, we prayed for a blind lady that had not seen for over 20 years. She had come forward to receive prayer for her sight. After we prayed, there was no change. As she was being lead back to her seat, one of the guys I was with said, “I believe you will see before you sit down”. Being the great man of faith that I was, I took a step away from my friend to distant myself from either the lightning that would fall from heaven and “smite” him or the rocks that was about to fly from the crowd as the throw us out for being charlatans. When she was about one foot from her chair she screamed that she could see, she could see her son for the first time in 20 years! As a naturopath, I believe we should take the advice of Hippocrates, the Father of modern medicine who said, "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food." It just makes sense to use diet and lifestyle as the foundation of health. The bible also mentions the use of food and herbs to enhance the healing process. Paul encouraged Timothy to use wine for his stomach. The alcohol in wine would increase hydrochloric acid thereby improving digestion. Leah and Rachel used Mandrake plants (which specific herb and its use is not fully know, though many believe that it increases fertility). Herbs are the highest quality foods available, which contain naturally and harmoniously balanced vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Herbal medicine is the most ancient form of health care known to humankind. Yet because of economics, modern medicine has veered away from the use of pure herbs in the treatment of disease. Herbs by their very nature cannot be patented. Because of this drug companies cannot hold the exclusive right to sell a particular herb, thus they are not motivated to invest in testing or promoting herbs. A few years ago I talked to a pharmacist about carrying natural remedies and herbs in their pharmacy. I was amazed at the response. This young pharmacist had grave concern about the safety of herbal remedies. Where are the double blind tests? She asked. How do we know herbs are safe? Unlike pharmaceuticals, which are often harsh stimulants and poisons, herbs are gentle and not dangerous when taken correctly. For thousands of years herbs have been used safely and effectively. The bible has many examples of herbal use starting in Genesis 1:29-30: “And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’, and it was so.” In the book of Revelations 22:2 there is a tree (not a pharmacy) that brings healing to the nations. My father is a pharmacist and a believer. He always encourages people to use natural and herbal remedies. Herbs are at the root of both Traditional Chinese and Ayurveda medicine. In Western Medicine the use of medicinal plants is fundamental. When my father attended pharmacy school over 50 years ago, he had to identify herbs by sight, smell, and taste. He had to know how to compound them into medications. His personal return to natural medicine came as he remembered the natural basis of the medicine of his youth. Today, as drug companies are pushing the synthetic, herbal medicine is experiencing a renaissance worldwide. This phenomenon is due to the growing concern about the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, the impersonal and often demeaning experience of modern health-care practices, and a renewed recognition of the unique medicinal value of herbs. Herbs are more elegant and less harsh than drugs; though their action is often slower in the inception, they provide remarkable lasting results. As integrative medicine proponent Andrew Weil, M.D. said, “Herbs and the dietary supplements made from them use an indirect route to the bloodstream and target organs, their effects are usually slower in onset and less dramatic than those of purified drugs administered by more direct routes. Doctors and patients accustomed to the rapid, intense effects of synthetic medicines may become impatient with botanicals for this reason.” Many people attempt to use herbs to simply control symptoms, though they are seldom as effective as their heavy-handed chemical-drug counterparts. Suppressing symptoms does not heal. This is true for both herbs and drugs. To use herbs to their true advantage – the ability to support the body’s effort to heal itself – we must understand the body’s actions and the action of the herb. The body is designed to be healthy and self-healing. When the natural state of health fails with the onset of disease, one of two events has occurred. We have become deficient in essential resources necessary for maintenance and protection, or we have accumulated excess toxins and irritants. Thus, the best use of herbs would be to take out the trash and restock the pantry: Detoxification and Regeneration. The medicinal action of herbs can be classified into three general groups: Detoxifying, Regenerating, and Symptom Regulating. Balancing the desire for comfort and the need for some regulation of events with the body’s choices and its own innate intelligence, constitutes a great part of the herbalist’s art. Detoxifying herbs are used to eliminate blockages and excesses. When toxins, irritants, and pathogens have accumulated in the body, they must be removed or disease will manifest. To remove this “bio-sludge,” herbs are used that have properties that tend to stimulate the self- cleansing processes of the system. For example, herbs with laxative properties cleanse the bowel, diuretics detoxify the kidneys and alterative herbs aid in cleansing the blood. The resolution of virtually every disease of the human frame will be beneficially affected by clearing the metabolic and pathogenic debris that has accumulated in the body. Regenerating herbs are those that build and tone depleted and overwhelmed tissues and functions. Regenerating herbs nourish and strengthen the body, improving the operating efficiency and recuperative powers of all tissues and organs. This bolsters resistance to disease. We use these herbs to recover from acute and chronic ailments, injury, and surgery. Some herbs are used as crisis management and pain relief. Symptom regulating herbs are beneficial once detoxification and rebuilding is underway. This category of herbs mitigates the uncomfortable symptoms that called us into action in the first place. However, if we only look for symptom relief and neglect detoxifying and regeneration we will never deal with root causes. As a naturopath and master herbalist, it is vital to deal with root causes which will release the body’s powerful resources to provide optimal health. God is the ultimate source for all healing, therefore let’s both pray for the miraculous and make common sense health choices utilizing natural the remedies He has provided.