The basic foundation of Naturopathy is in harmony with nature. It is a holistic medicinal philosophy using natural resources in order to achieve the perfect state of health and fitness. As long as there is an undeniable relation between human beings and Mother Nature, the relevance of Naturopathy cannot be deprived. Naturopathy educates about the basic lessons of achieving this harmony by means of fresh air, light, hygienic water, balanced diet and exercise. All these are the chief requisites of human life. Naturopathy tells about the intrinsic healing power of human body. It works on treating the cause rather than symptoms through prescribed diet and regular exercises. naturopathy prescribes a change in your lifestyle achieved through balanced nutrition, fasting to distill the body, hydrotherapy, mud therapy, steam therapy, exercises etc. it’s proven as an effective healing system widely used in eastern countries like Indonesia. The primary purpose of taking food is to maintain the body and mind healthy by infusing the adequate protein, starch, vitamins and minerals. By prescribing nutrient rich food, naturopathy helps your body achieve the state of perfect health and wellness (Namboodiri, 2006).
Sometimes called complementary medicine, or alternative medicine, holistic medicine is an array of healing and self-help practices drawn from many cultures. The goal of holistic medicine is to assist the body’s natural healing processes through complementary or alternative therapies. Some of these methods are well documented and studied scientifically while others are based on historical tradition, while others are based on theory and have not yet been well studied. Holistic practitioners often view themselves as teachers who educate, empower, and motivate their patients or clients to lead healthier lives, emphasizing prevention as the best cure. Holistic medicine is often used in conjunction with conventional medicine (Holistic Health, 2004).
Many people favor using herbs, a combination of medicinal herbs and western medicine, in order to cure or alleviate their symptoms, even though these remedies have no guarantee. Herbology is the art of combining medicinal herbs. A medicinal herb can be a shrub or other woody plant, whereas a culinary herb is a non-woody plant. Herbology is customarily one of the more important modalities that are utilized in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Each herbal medicine prescription is a cocktail of many herbs customized to the individual patient. One set of herbs is normally decocted twice over the course of one hour. The practitioner usually designs a remedy using one or two chief ingredients that target the illness. Then the practitioner puts in many other ingredients to adjust the formula to the patient’s Yin Yang conditions (Herbology — Herbalism, n.d).
Occasionally, ingredients are needed to cancel out toxicity or side-effects of the main ingredients. Some herbs necessitate the use of other ingredients as catalyst or else the brew is unproductive. The latter steps call for a great deal of experience and knowledge, and make the difference between a good Chinese herbal doctor and an amateur. Not like western medications, the balance and relations of all the ingredients are believed to be more important than the effect of individual ingredients. A key to success in TCM is the management of each patient as an individual (Herbology — Herbalism, n.d).
Chinese Herbology often integrates ingredients from all parts of plants, the leaf, stem, flower, root, and also ingredients from animals and minerals. The use of parts of scarce species has created controversy and resulted in a black market of poachers who hunt controlled animals. Most herbal producers have discontinued the use of any animal parts from endangered animals. From the beginning of time, plants have been the primary source of medicine for the human race. Medicinal plants have been talked about in the Bible, and in historical literature. Plants that are utilized as medicines have been referred to as herbs for over 4000 years by European and the Mediterranean cultures (Herbology — Herbalism, n.d).
At first, the term herb only pertained to non-woody plants. Nowadays, herb refers to any part of any plant used for flavoring or medicine. Although the term herb can also be associated with food spices, it is generally used in reference to any plant, or any part of a plant, having nutritional and medicinal values. In addition, an herb may be a fruit, a bark, a flower, a leaf, or a root, as well as anon-woody plant. There are numerous types of herbal medicine systems that are used today: European, Native American, Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Western herbalism are the most prevalent systems. Regardless of differences in terminology and in the herbs used, there is a common cord that joins these systems. All of these systems care for the body as a whole, and they each utilize the energy of plants to work as needed in synergy with the natural energy in each individual (Herbology — Herbalism, n.d).
Since there are so many different herbal systems, there are also many different ways of classifying herbs. Some systems being used over the years tend to classify herbs by plant part, by humoral theories, by botanical family, by color or by morphology. One example is the Chinese system, which has a complex classification system based on chi, or body energy concepts. This classification scheme is very successful at correlating the human body to proper herb usage, but does not provide for easy substitution of one herb for another (Herbology — Herbalism, n.d).
There are many other ways to classify herbs. Another simple method is to identify five major herbal categories: Aromatic (volatile oils), Astringent (tannins), Bitter (phenol compounds, saponins and alkaloids), Mucilaginous (polysaccharides) and Nutritive (food stuffs).
This category system makes it easy to identify herbs using taste and smell, and becomes helpful when needing to substitute herbs for one another. There are many ways to grow, gather, and harvest herbs. Herbs are considered the best by some practitioners when they are naturally grown in the wild, untouched by industrial pollutants. Others favor herbs that are cultivated indoors, away from all contaminants, in a controlled environment (Herbology — Herbalism, n.d).
Many herbalists’ only gather certain herbs depending on the seasons, the weather, and the time of day. This is in order to achieve the highest level of medicinal qualities. And still others may disregard this practice, and will purposefully plant herbs out of season so that they will be available for sale year round. Many think that the energy with which the herbs are gathered is also very important, and should always be done with great spiritual awareness and prayerful thankfulness. And others feel that herbs should be handled with reverence and respect. Additionally to the growth and gathering techniques, harvesting practices vary as well. Recommendations may include taking the whole plant at once including the buds, roots, seeds, leaves and blooms, or taking each part of the plant in a particular order, and only using younger, or older, plants (Herbology — Herbalism, n.d).
There are also quite a few ways to dispense herbs. The most widespread methods are herbal pastes, juices, decoctions, hot or cold infusions, powders, pills, aromatics, tinctures or extracts, liniments, syrups, poultices and fomentations, medicated oils, salves and ointments, lotions, teas, and whole herbs. Each type is good for particular ailments, and often may be used together such as internally and externally for an external wound to take full advantage of the healing attributes of each. All these options should be integrated with both a person’s personal external needs and your internal ideals for the best possible results. A knowledgeable herbalist can help you decide which system is right for you. Herbs are considered foods, and like any other food, herbs should be taken in moderation. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions for use (Herbology — Herbalism, n.d).
In Chinese medicine herbs are connected with the major organs of the body. For example certain herbs are used to heal lung ailments and the meridians associated with the lungs. The practitioner will always provide the patient with two herbs. One is called the guiding herb that gets the healing herb to the right spot and the second herb is the healing herb. Much of this is very intuitive as the body will crave the food, tastes, or herbs that it needs (Herbology — Herbalism, n.d).
In plant spirit medicine the practitioner not only administers the healing herb but he has a relationship with the Spirit of the healing plant. They can actually communicate with the spirit of a powerful healing plant to heal the patient. This can be done as a distant healing with patient and practitioner in two different parts of the country. In this case the spirit goes to the patient (Herbology — Herbalism, n.d).
To the casual observer, an herbalist accomplished in the methods of clinical Chinese Herbology appears to function as any other herbalist around the world. They assess an individual’s problems and choose appropriate herbs and herbal formulas. Textbooks can be used which list herbs and formulas for each type of health problem. A pile of different dried herbs may be bagged and given to the individual to cook up at home and drink as a tea, or commercial preparations of freeze-dried powders, pills or liquid extracts may be given instead (Wicke, 2006).
A certain air of mystery has accompanied the introduction of Chinese herbs into the West, and many people have assumed that there is something especially potent about Chinese herbs. Chinese herb shops have strengthened this mystique by significantly displaying dried sea horses, woody funguses, gingko, and other plant and animal products foreign to America and Europe. Nonetheless, plant products such as mint, dandelion, rhubarb root, cattail pollen, fennel, and licorice root are included in the Chinese pharmacopeia, and yet each one of these plants is also common to North America and Europe. Black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger are all common table spices in the West, yet these herbs originally were introduced from Asia as they too are included in the Chinese pharmacopeia (Wicke, 2006).
Helpful medicinal plant products can be found throughout the world, and the Chinese were probably the first to actively seek out plant products from other countries. At different phases in China’s history, myrrh and frankincense were imported from the Middle East, cinchona bark was imported from South America, and, recently, American ginseng has been imported from Wisconsin (Wicke, 2006).
If one looks more closely at the routine of a skilled herbalist, they will see several curious techniques that are considered essential by all properly trained TCM herbalists. While taking a person’s pulse the herbalist will take an excessive amount of time. Palpation of the radial pulse is completed not just at one position, but at several positions and depths at both wrists. In addition to a straightforward count of the pulse rate, other pulse qualities are of interest. The TCM herbalist also carefully examines the tongue, preferably using a bright, full-spectrum lamp, noting the color, thickness and distribution of tongue coating, and color and texture of tongue tissue. They will ask about the person’s complaints and symptoms, especially those which reveal the individual’s metabolic and neuroendocrine characteristics, such as thirst, appetite, perception of body heat or coolness, general energy level, urination and bowels, moods and mental states (Wicke, 2006).
After looking at and evaluating all of this information, TCM herbalists develop herbal formulas that are tailored to each individual’s total body characteristics, as well as the chief complaint and primary symptoms. They do not select herbs or herbal formulas based solely upon the chief complaint, nor do they choose formulas based on the medical condition that a physician may have diagnosed. This is the vital philosophical and scientific differences between the Chinese herbal sciences and Western medicine (Wicke, 2006).
Natural and herbal remedies have achieved vast popularity over the last 30 years. Many cultures, including early American’s have used the earth’s natural resources to treat, cure and alleviate a variety of ailments for generations. Herbology consist of the study of plants and their healing properties. As with the common classification of herbs, there are common methods for preparing herbs, such as pastes, juices, powders, poultices, salves, teas, whole herbs, extracts, pills, infusions, syrups and ointments. The technique chosen for preparing herbs and herbal remedies is closely related to the symptoms of the specific ailment that is to be treated. Each way utilized for preparing herbs can provide different healing components. Consequently, one herb can be used to treat a variety of ailments (Principles of Herbology, 1998).
Plants have been used both internally and externally to prevent and rejuvenate the body’s systems for centuries. The medicinal application of plants can be extracted from flowers, stems, seeds, leafs, roots and bark. The understanding of these plants and what effect they may have upon the body is the practice of Herbology (Principles of Herbology, 1998).
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has relied on empirical evidence and traditional healing manuscripts. Prior to the wider utilization of TCM theory and medicines in other medical systems, particularly western biomedical medicine, research is required to understand the biochemical basis for TCM classification systems for drugs and the mechanism of action of these drugs (Liao, Banbury and Leach, 2007).
In TCM’s long course of growth, it has absorbed the quintessence of classical Chinese philosophy, culture and science and summarized the experience of the Chinese people in fighting diseases. This observed evidence as a basis of TCM has resulted in a totally different medical theory compared with western conventional medicine. TCM thinks that the different characters of herbs are employed to treat diseases, rectify the hyperactivity or hypoactivity of yin or yang and help the body restore its normal physiologic functions. All herbs have four natures along with five flavors. The four natures are cold, hot, warm and cool and are summarized mainly from the body’s response after Chinese herbs are taken, which are so defined in relation to the properties, cold or heat of the diseases treated. Additionally there are also some herbs known as neutral ones, whose cold or hot nature is not so remarkable and whose action is relatively mild, but these herbs still have differences in their tendencies to cool or warm so that they are still in the range of four natures. The five flavors are pungent, sweet, sour, bitter and salty all which can be tasted with the tongue. With the expansion of the theory dealing with the medicinal properties, the flavors could best be described as abstract concepts, as the flavor definitions have arisen more from observations of the clinical actions of the herbs than from the taste sensations (Liao, Banbury and Leach, 2007).
Most herbs contain a combination of a number of flavors like bitter with sweet and pungent. The nature and the flavor are two types of medicinal properties that every Chinese herb has. Contemporary scientific research has been undertaken on the four natures since 1960, mainly in China and Japan. There are two main research areas on the four natures. The first is pharmacodynamic study, exploring the effect of cold and hot herbs on central nerve transmitters, sympathetic-adrenomedullary system, prostaglandin and endocrine system. The second is significant foundation research, including chemical components and especially trace elements. Some ground-breaking research was from biophysics and biochemistry to study the natures of Radix ginseng, Folium ginseng, Flos ginseng and Radix quinquefolium using a microcalorimetry method (Liao, Banbury and Leach, 2007).
The results of four natures of 60 Chinese herbs were observed on organs and tissues of mice using C-2-deoxy-glucose and autoradiography. The consequences showed that there were character distinctions among four natures on organs and tissues. Measuring up to with the research on natures, the study on flavors has focused on the relationship between chemical component and different flavor especially abstract flavor and the pharmacologic actions of the main components in China (Liao, Banbury and Leach, 2007).
Herbs of dissimilar natures and flavors exhibit different effects and are categorized differently in terms of yin and yang. Chinese herbs are also mostly classified on the basis of their function in theory and in the clinical setting. Circulation related herbs are classified as: function 1, drugs whose principal effects are to stop internal and external bleeding, function 2, drugs that make free the passage of blood in the vessels, promote blood circulation and disperse blood stasis, function 3, drugs that nourish the blood and are indicated for syndromes of blood deficiency and, function 4, drugs with the effects of dispelling pathogenic heat from the blood systems. These theories are the necessary basis for the analyses and clinical usage of Chinese herbs (Liao, Banbury and Leach, 2007).
Herbology and herbal medicine has been around for a long time. There are several different theories as to how herbs can be used to treat people, but all of these theories have one thing in common. They all treat the whole person based upon whatever symptoms that they are experiencing. This makes this form of medicine a very individualist approach. Since each person is different each person is often treated with a unique combination of herbs in order to heal them as an individual.
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Liao, Hui, Banbury, Linda K. And Leach, David N. (2007). Antioxidant activity of 45 Chinese
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Namboodiri, Shruthi, (2006). Go Slim and Sexy with the Naturopathy Diet. Retrieved March 14,
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Wicke, Roger. (2006). How does Chinese herbal practice differ from other types of clinical herbology? Retrieved March 13, 2010, from Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute Web site:
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