Natural Health Blog

Herbs aren't Drugs, They're Food!

The Majestic Mullein Plant, Lung Support Herb & Much More!A friend reached out to me today & asked me if herbs were standardized.  Standardization takes place in laboratories; isolating compounds from substances so that they can bottle it and make the potencies all the same.  My friend is in nursing school and they mentioned this in class. Very interesting.

When people make the statement, "Herbs can't be standardized; This month you buy a bottle & it's one potency & next month you buy a bottle & it's totally different" is a misunderstanding of herbs entirely. 
One that would make this kind of statement thinks of herbs in terms of pharmaceuticals.  Herbs aren't drugs, they are food. Parsley has a action on the kidney (diuretic), is parsley a drug? No, It's a food.  Same with garlic, & many more foods. My response to this sort of thinking is; Can you standardize an apple?  No.  And no one would ever expect to have standardized apples because apples are food.  Although they do vary in fiber, sugar, minerals & so on based on where they are grown, how good the soil is how long the season was, etc.  Herbs are food too; & yes they will very slightly from crop to crop.  

However, the medicinal action with high quality liquid tinctures is going to be generally the same.  Are there some herbal sources that are better than others? Definitely. This is why I'm so particular about where I pick my herbs, thus it's important to find a company that sources organic or wild crafted & ethically harvested plants.
Wild Crafted means to be grown wild, without the use of pesticides & herbicide.  My Elderberries; Those were wild crafted. I picked from a naturally occurring wild source. The definition of ethically harvested is to take only what you need of the plant, leaving some to go to seed or to keep growing for the next crop.  
When tinctures are made from organic, quality sources (like what I make) and companies like Herb Pharm & Gaia Herbs make; these are actually better than standardized herbs.  

So called "standardized herbs" are meant to give the impression that they are all the same from bottle to bottle. Often in order to isolate that "favorable" compound from an herb (like lobeline from lobelia, a lung herb) , some companies & laboratories must use harmful solvents to isolate that compound.  This is not good.  Not to mention the fact that the company might be completely ignoring or deeming "inert" compounds that naturally also occur in the plant. Something that they may know nothing about because they aren't familiar with the historical use of the herb & they probably have no first hand experience with the herb to begin with.  
Herbs, plants, & foods are complex.  They are put together the way they are for a reason.  Usually when mankind starts fiddling with this, they inevitable mess it up.  Tinctures incorporate all parts of the plants chemical constituents, as nature intended them to be.
Someone that is saying that herbs can't be standardized doesn't understand that herbs are food.  Herbs should be taken with care from the best source possible.  This isn't always done;  some herb companies make inferior products & it can be compared to something really high quality, even though the are not the same at all.  
I'll compare this scenario again, to apples.  Some apple farms put out tasteless, bland, apples grown in depleted soil.  Some farms produce organically grown & mineral rich apples that taste great because they are a product of healthy soil. They are both good for you, but one is clearly better & you can usually taste it.  

The idea that herbs can't be standardized is irrelevant as it completely misses the point. Herbs are mineral rich, and have active compounds that can support the body to arrive at balance faster; with the help of a good diet, sunshine, fresh air & water.  Herbs are food, & as the father of "modern medicine" said, "let food be they medicine & let medicine be thy food".  This is the point.  
 The real blessing of herbs to mankind is that they are wild, & can truly never be standardized; & that is just the way I like!  
It's part of the beauty of herbalism, great food, & even a beautiful day; they are all uniquely different but all wonderful & good for the body.  Standardized medicines & herbalism are two completely different schools of thought.  And personally I'd rather let mother nature concoct my medicines any day of the week than some laboratory.  Mother Nature, (when allowed to do her thing) always get's it right.