A herbal medicine may be natural, but is its active ingredient when separated by chemists still natural? Is an alcoholic tincture of the herb natural and can the herb be separated into its constituent parts and then put together again in order to control the chemical constituents still be regarded as natural?
There are good reasons for doing all this to natural substances. It is well known that the chemical constituents of plants will vary during the year and according to the weather conditions. Doctors need to be sure that what they give their patients have sufficient active ingredients to do the job required. As we process the herb more and more, trying to remove the most active parts of the herb however, it very often begins to look more like a drug than a natural herbal substance. The herb is extremely complex while the drug is a pretty simple chemical structure by comparison. While it may make sense that the so called ‘active’ ingredient part of the plant is all that is required ,this may nevertheless be an assumption based on our limited understanding of plants and herbs and how these are processed in the body.
Vitamins and minerals are generally thought of as single isolated substances but that is not how they appear within the plant structure. Water for example is hydrogen and oxygen but they do not exactly appear as single isolated elements within water but rather blend into each other in a unique way. Vitamins and minerals are also blended into the structure of the plant.
Most vitamins found in supplements are synthesized from petroleum derivatives or hydrogenated sugars. So even though they are called natural and regarded as identical to the natural vitamins found in foods there are good reasons to question these assumptions.
How should one consider processed foods such as corn flakes made from natural ingredients, fortified brown health bread, tinned food, and alcoholic beverages? These foods do not obviously grow out of the ground and yet will often carry the label “natural” with it. Fruit juices are often heated to sterilize the contents at temperatures, which destroy its natural vitamins and enzymes. They carry labels such as ‘natural’ free of preservatives and colourants but are they natural…as found in nature: unaltered by man.
Extract from our new title Healthy Medicine by Dr. Bernard Brom
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