HERB AND TONIC FUNDAMENTALS
“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos – the trees, the clouds, everything.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Plants Bring Power to the People
Plants evolved on earth more than 400+ million years before the first humans. Therefore, plants and humans share hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary and ecological heritage that has truly ensured our survival. Our true elders, plants provide food and medicine, and a synergistic relationship so complete, that we inhale what they exhale (oxygen), and they inhale what we exhale (carbon dioxide)! Plants embody rhythms, cycles and patterns of nature, a living, breathing universal wisdom that has truly laid the groundwork for our success. They carry the vital, life force energy of the planet, the “spirit” of the earth, a regenerative force that has always nourished, healed and transformed humanity.
Healing plants, called herbs, have always been a basic source of healing for humans, from the beginning of time. The use of plants, as healing remedies, is inherent in all cultures, throughout all historical times. Humans are much better suited to healing treatments with plant remedies, than with modern, isolated chemical medicines. Due to shared evolution, our biochemistry closely matches that of plants. Healing plants, such as herbs, provide the human body with many highly assimilable and essential nutritive elements, including proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients which can beneficially assist us in our quest for health and healing. We tend to forget, that in all but the last 70 years or so, humans have relied almost entirely on plants, such as herbs, to treat all manner of illnesses, from minor problems to life-threatening diseases. Today, we have growing choices for health, from healing herbal plants to isolated chemical medicines, known as drugs – one with shared evolutionary heritage and nature’s wisdom, and the other well-know known for their power, speed and consequent side effects.
Wild Sage uses healing herbs that are well-known, with a long history of safe use (see Key Herbs). We do not use or promote the use of rare, exotic, or little-known herbs with strong side effects. Many of the herbs in our Organic Tonic Herbals were once prescribed by doctors of the U.S. Pharmacopeia through the turn of last century (see Key Herbs with the species name of officinalis). Well-known healing herbs provide multiple healing benefits – without the risk of side effects. They can be taken daily, especially as a tea, several times, to provide effective, gentle and cumulative results for many common and chronic ailments, including stress, anxiety, insomnia, tension, hormone & blood sugar imbalances, toxicity, fatigue, digestive problems, allergies, headaches, arthritis, pain, colds and flu.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, tonic herbs are categorized as the highest grade of herbs, considered to “nourish life itself”. The lowest grade of herbs only “dispel disease”; the middle grade corrects “temporary imbalances” in the body. Tonic herbs are considered the most “life-promoting” herbs.
There are three main qualities which define an herb as tonic. First, an herbal tonic must have nutritive, life-force enhancing qualities that nourish the human body like a food. Many tonic herbs have highly concentrated sources of rare and potent nutritional elements that can greatly enhance physiological and psychological functioning. Secondly, tonic herbs must have long history of safety. Superior nutritive qualities often occur together with gentleness, to promote life, like a food. Therefore, tonic herbs are typically taken over a period time to provide gentle, yet cumulative and sustained results with no side effects. When taken regularly, tonic herbs can evenbuild and sustain an “energy savings account” which strengthens vitality, enhances immunity, provides stress-relief and balances the body’s vital systems (unlike stimulants which draw on instant energy and produce a subsequent “crash” i.e., coffee). Lastly, many tonic herbs have adaptogenic qualities – which means they assist the body to adapt to outside stressors, capable of a bi-directional, balancing effect which provide stress relief, release tension, induce calm and focus, even as they build energy, restore strength, enhance stamina and balance throughout the body’s systems. Not all tonic herbs are adaptogens, but most adaptogens are tonic.
One of the simplest and best ways to protect health, restore vitality and promote longevity is to indulge in tonic herbs. It is interesting to note that herbs and drugs (despite their multiple side-effects) are often valued exactly the opposite way in conventional western medicine! The understanding and appreciation of tonic herbs requires a western “reorientation of thought” – with much less emphasis placed on “controlling symptoms” and “killing germs”, to much more emphasis on re-establishing balance, by increasing the body system’s natural defenses and restorative powers.
NOTE: There are a few “specific herbs” that are more tonic when drank mostly as a tea, such as Echinacea, Yarrow and Wild Cherry Bark in the Wellness Teas for cold/flu. They are typically taken for only several weeks, orshorter time periods, and Kava Kava, considered safe and beneficial primarily in the mild doses of a multi-component herbal tea.