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Herbal Medicine

Persian Traditional Medicine

Persian Traditional Medicine is an ancient system whose influences date to 400 BC.  It is based on the Ancient Greek conception that health is a function of the balance of four bodily fluids or humours – black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. The idea was first systematized by Hippocrates and further developed by the Roman physician, Galen.  The Persian interpretation is usually attributed to Rhazes, the tenth century physician, who expanded on Galen’s ideas.  In the next century, Avicenna made his own contributions to the system.  The practice spread to India in the 13th Century where it became known as Yunani (or Unani) and was a significant influence on Ayurveda medicine which is still practiced today.

Iridology

Using the iris as a diagnostic indicator has been around for a few hundred years.  The founder of the modern methodology is the 19th-century Hungarian physician, Ignaz von Peczely.  Peczely’s ideas were expanded on by Nils Liljequist of Sweden, who developed a series of circular charts mapping the various areas of the iris.  The Felke Institute, headquartered in Gerlingen, Germany, is the “leading centre of iridological research and training” (Wikipedia a).  It is thought that the areas of the iris, mapped out over the years by Peczely, Liljequist and others, correspond to various organs and systems of the body and that their color changes indicate relevant deficiencies, caused by toxins, bad nutrition, and lifestyle choices.  Over 300, 000 nerves connect to the optic nerve sending information from the rest of the body.  Each iris (left and right) has a different chart divided into approximately 80 – 90 different zones.  Iridologists use various instruments to examine patients’ irises, including magnifying glasses and flashlights.  Iridology offers a unique perspective in the detection of disease, debilitating conditions, imbalances in the nervous system, and other issues affecting one’s general well-being.

What are the benefits of Iridology?

Iridology is a non-invasive diagnostic method requiring no surgical procedures.  It is also relatively quick, inexpensive, and completely painless.   Iridology treats the whole person rather than isolated symptoms.  It enables patients to maintain general health and well-being.  The body is able to heal itself.  What iridology does is pinpoint vulnerable areas that need direct assistance so that the body’s immune system can function holistically.

The fundamental goal of iridology is the alleviation of serious health issues.  It is a holistic approach that incorporates nutrition, spiritual and lifestyle support.  It does not preclude any other form of diagnostics or treatment; in fact it may benefit from being used in conjunction with other methodologies including ones recommended by one’s doctor.  Iridology has demonstrated benefits by increasing knowledge of one’s bodily systems and processes, including nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, and lymphatic systems, as well as general health awareness.  Iridology can detect inflammation, acidity, and areas in the body experiencing hyper and hypo activity.  It provides a readily accessible monitoring procedure for changes that occur while undergoing a therapeutic regimen.

Modern Herbal Medicine

Herbal Medicine, also known as herbalism and phytotherapy, is based on the use of plants for healing and the maintenance of health.  An ancient practice, the use of medicinal plants dates back to well before the dawn of history.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care” (Wikipedia b).  This is because of both tradition and cost; modern pharmaceuticals are, in comparison, prohibitively expensive in many of these countries.  The salient point of herbs is that they can be cultivated in the backyard for no more than the cost of the seeds.  The World Health Organization also reports that “approximately 25% of modern drugs used in the United States have been derived from plants.  At least 7,000 medical compounds in the modern pharmacopoeia are derived from plants” (Wikipedia b).  In addition, “Among the 120 active compounds currently isolated from the higher plants and widely used in modern medicine today, 80% show a positive correlation between their modern therapeutic use and the traditional use of the plants from which they are derived” (Wikipedia b).

Herbal Medicine

Herbal Medicine, also known as herbalism and phytotherapy, is based on the use of plants for healing and the maintenance of health.  An ancient practice, the use of medicinal plants dates back to well before the dawn of history.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care” (Wikipedia b).  This is because of both tradition and cost; modern pharmaceuticals are, in comparison, prohibitively expensive in many of these countries.  The salient point of herbs is that they can be cultivated in the backyard for no more than the cost of the seeds.  The World Health Organization also reports that “approximately 25% of modern drugs used in the United States have been derived from plants.  At least 7,000 medical compounds in the modern pharmacopoeia are derived from plants” (Wikipedia b).  In addition, “Among the 120 active compounds currently isolated from the higher plants and widely used in modern medicine today, 80% show a positive correlation between their modern therapeutic use and the traditional use of the plants from which they are derived” (Wikipedia b). Herbal remedies are consumed in many forms, including teas, tisanes (or infusions), decoctions, macerations, tinctures, and elixirs.  Teas, tisanes and infusions are prepared by steeping the herbs in hot water.  Remedies derived from plant roots and bark require a longer process in boiling water, called decoction.  Plants such as sage or thyme which have a high mucilage (a complex glutinous carbohydrate) content are soaked (macerated) in cold water for several hours.  Tinctures use alcohol (ethanol) as the means of extraction.  Elixirs are similar to tinctures using a lower concentration of ethanol and sometimes the addition of a sweetener.

The following are examples of some common healing herbs and their medicinal uses (Vamos 2005).

Angelica Eases cramps, arthritis, backaches, soothes the stomach
Birch bark Stimulates kidneys and breathing of the skin
Comfrey Soothes inflamed skin and sunburns
Eucalyptus Combats colds, respiratory problems and circulatory problems
Eucalyptus Combats colds, respiratory problems and circulatory problems
Feverfew Headaches, migraines, pain-relieving properties
Garlic Antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal
Horsetail Diuretic properties, flush system of bacterial/inflammatory
Lavender General calming and nervous disorders
Peppermint General stimulant, stimulates skin circulation
Saint John’s wort Antidepressant, sleep-inducing effect
Valerian root Calming, insomnia, flatulence

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