Healing with Herbs

September 23, 2011

A journalist just interviewed me about the recent medical journal article on the use of the herb saw palmetto for benign prostatic hypertrophy. The study concluded that “Increasing doses of a saw palmetto fruit extract did not reduce lower urinary tract symptoms more than placebo.”

She asked if I would tell people to stop taking saw palmetto because of this study.

Here’s my response:

A funny thing happens on the way to the research lab!

Things get twisted.

It seems to me that this study is similar to other herbal trials. Here’s how it goes: The pervading herbal wisdom is positive for an herb. People take it and some (if not many) people benefit.

Then science gets hold of the herb but usually uses a herb that is standardized to what scientists “think” is the most active ingredient. The final product is no longer a herb but a chemical that is usually only one small part of a herb.

Then the scientists test this “non-herb” on people using finer and finer criteria and “low and behold” it doesn’t do what the ancient herbalists thought it did. Lord Suffering Cats, they aren’t even testing what the ancients used at all! So, what do they expect?

On the other hand, my philosophy is to survey the ancient wisdom, use a whole organic herb product, and let the individual’s body decide if it’s suitable for them. Not everyone is going to respond to the same herb. Why would they? After all, there are thousands of herbs!

However, science wants to isolate the one chemical from the one herb and make it apply to everyone for their one diagnosis. They are doing an enormous disservice to herbalism and to people in general. They are making people distrust herbs because they are saying their use is unscientific. They cause people to stop using their natural products because they think that science is saying the herb is worthless…when what is “worthless” is the isolated chemical used in the study. It’s like comparing apples and grapefruit…which is even worse than comparing apples and oranges.

Don’t wait around for scientists to “get a clue” about herbs. Check with your local herbalist, naturopath or chiropractor and do your own “research.”

Carolyn Dean MD ND

The Doctor of the Future®

RESOURCES: Along the borders and in the links of my web site you can find my books, writings, and my call-in radio show. Email your questions to: questions@drcarolyndeanlive.com.

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