Herbal medicine: The plants that are drugs

  • The surprise cause of many hospital admissions
  •  Why natural remedies & medicines are closer than we think
  •  These plants can outperform drugs

I hate it when this happens…

You’re talking to someone about nutrition and natural remedies…

And they suddenly blurt out…

“YOU are the reason that so many people die from serious disease.”


I realise their response might sound odd, but here’s their rationale…

They think that because I support the promotion of diet, exercise, nutrition and complementary therapies as a way to keep people healthier and happier for longer…

…it means that I am somehow ANTI-medicines and ANTI-science and ANTI-drugs at any cost, no matter how seriously ill or critically endangered a life is.

But I have never said anything like that and neither do most people in my field.

We are simply showing people the many beneficial, low cost, natural ways they can improve their health, reduce pain and stay out of the doctor’s surgery as much as possible.

Admittedly, there are some militant types who encourage their followers and readers to forfeit urgent treatments for critical diseases at all costs.

But these examples are used as a cudgel with which to rain down blows on the heads of EVERYONE promoting natural herbal medicine and a holistic approach to good health.

The same accusers have said to me:

“How can you say that natural remedies are better than drugs made by top scientists?”

So I very calmly make the point that this is a silly dichotomy, because many drugs are actually versions of natural remedies.

In fact, 35% of medicines originated in natural products, like animals, plants and fungi.

And 11% of the drugs considered ‘essential’ by the World Health Organisation came from flowering plants – that includes drugs designed to combat cancer, Parkinson’s disease and malaria.

For example:

  • Aspirin is one of the most widely used drugs, yet the original version of it was extracted from the bark of the willow tree.
  • Foxgloves contain digoxin, discovered in 1775 by Scottish doctor William Withering when a patient was given it by a local Romani, and recovered. It is used today to slow the heart rate in patients with arrhythmia.
  • Morphine was first isolated from poppies in the early nineteenth century.
  • Snowdrops contain an alkaloid called galantamine, which is used to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The main problem is that many drugs are supposed to be last resorts but we are pushed towards them when there are alternative preventative and curative options available – ones that use real plants and whole foods with far fewer side-effects.

And the truth is, the scientists are pro natural medicines, too. Because they are continually looking to the natural world for their next big drug.

For instance:

  • Water hyssop is a tropical aquatic plant in India and China, used in their traditional medicines, which is being investigated by researchers as a way of reducing inflammation in the brain.
  • Berberine is a compound in plants, including goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape and tree turmeric. Evidence is beginning to show it can lower blood sugar levels and inflammation just as well as the popular diabetes drug metformin.
  • The tobacco plant may become the next weapon against stroke and heart disease. Scientists are developing versions with seeds containing proteins that thin the blood, helping to fight stroke and heart disease.

The problem with the way that scientists extract chemicals from plants is that you get the chemical in isolation – without all the other phytonutrients that come with it, and help it become absorbed and utilised effectively.

Which is one reason, for example, that I favour whole food-based vitamins over those isolated in a lab.

In addition I think basic herbal medicine is the best place to start looking for a remedy.

There’s also another problem with many popular prescribed drugs (and over-the-counter ones, for that matter).

Too many people in this country still don’t realise how serious the side-effects can be.

The surprise cause of many hospital admissions

The most recent UK stats I can find are from 2017, but they show that the percentage of hospital admissions due to adverse drug reactions is 6–7%.

These reactions happen in 10–20% of hospital in-patients.

In one study, over 2% of people admitted with an adverse drug response died.

I’ve seen a report from the USA showing that more people die every year from the side effects of drugs than are killed in car accidents.

So with this in mind, it’s important that we live our lives for a long as possible using the natural preventatives and medicines available to us.

That seems sensible, doesn’t it?

And it’s not just about medicines, therapies and remedies.

The way we eat, drink, sleep, work, drive, exercise, clean our homes and clothes all affect our health.

From posture problems caused by desk work… to the dietary effects of convenience food… to the effects of stress related insomnia… to the toxins in our cleaning products…

There are so many silent causes of the health problems we face as a society.

Instead of constantly seeking to invent new drugs and surgeries to patch up these problems, we could target these root causes, too.

Let’s show people how little changes to the way they live can help reduce the risk of pain, depression, obesity and serious disease when they get older.

This will save society the huge sums of money we spend on cures, hospital beds, care facilities and operations…

But of course, these free solutions can’t be packaged and sold.

They don’t make billions for big companies.

So they are ignored or not taken as seriously.

Which is why people like me write email newsletters like this, to show people what’s out there and what’s possible.

We don’t want people to reject modern medicine.

We just want them to rely less upon it.

Not only that, but for all of us to feel healthier and happier by eating and living well.