Jun 21

Modern Medicine From Natural Sources

There are many medicines widely used today in medical practice that are derived from natural plant sources. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. The scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. It is also called ‘The Tree of Life”.
The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world’s population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history. For thousands of years coconut products have held a respected and valuable place in local folk medicine.
In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including the following: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.
While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it’s the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine. Coconut oil has been described as “the healthiest oil on earth.” This is just one of the many sources of medicinal compounds that we use today, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. Plant medicines are the most widely used medicines in the world today. Eighty-five percent (85%) of the world’s population employs herbs as their primary medicines.
Plant medicines are safer, gentler and better for human health than synthetic drugs. Human beings have co-evolved with plants over the past few million years. We eat plants, drink their juices, ferment and distill libations from them, and consume them in a thousand forms. Ingredients in plants from carbohydrates, fats and protein, to vitamins and minerals, are part of our body composition and chemistry.
The same cannot be said about synthetic drugs. The results of the synthetic drug explosion have been unfortunate. Drugs prescribed in hospitals today are the sixth leading cause of death among American adults. This exceeds deaths due to crack, handguns, and traffic accidents combined. If you add the number of adult and child deaths attributable to over the counter and prescription drugs given outside of hospitals, the figures are even worse.
Senna alexandrina, a shrubby perennial native to Arabia, is still widely used today in popular brands of drugstore laxatives.
Mentha (aka mint) species are the natural sources of menthol. Menthol is an active ingredient in topical preparations to relieve itching and as a mild local anesthetic to soothe soreness and ease muscular tension. Menthol is commonly used in lozenges for sore throats, and is added to inhalers to treat upper respiratory disorders and open congested sinuses.
Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy, yields a sap of narcotic opium and is which the potent pain killer morphine is made.
Digitalis purpurea, the purple foxglove, is a popular garden plant cultivated as a source of digitoxin, a cardiac drug which increases the strength of heart beat while decreasing its rate. Digitoxin is used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and other cardiac disorders.
These are just a few examples, but many of our prescription medications are derived from natural sources. Herbal remedies have been around since Neanderthal man and are safer and more easily accepted by the human body without the harmful and potentially fatal side effects.

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