If you look closely at pharmaceuticals, that is, “drugs,” they are not all that different chemically and practically from medicinal herbs. Both pharmaceuticals and herbs are either organic compounds, mostly, or sometimes inorganic elements or compounds, not as frequently. Both can be therapeutic depending on what they are treating. Either can be toxic; although, herbs less toxic. Yet, then again, herbs tend to be less potent than drugs, which is fine some of the time, but with more serious illnesses you might want the more toxic but stronger drug. These are never hard and fast rules, of course, the strongest herb may be stronger than a weak drug; and, toxicity can vary as well.
Still, there is one difference that holds more generally, where exceptions only prove the rule. Pharmaceuticals are in the majority artificial, that is, man-made. Even penicillin, originally derived from bread mold, is now synthesized rather than natural. (The natural in this case, by the way, is stronger than the lab made. Interestingly.) Herbs are nature made. And, that is that.
Many drugs are imitations or variations on natural herbal themes. Sometimes, as with steroids, they are lab made imitations of what a part of your body, your adrenal glands in this case, are making. I think if we thought about it a bit more and put things in perspective, we could even say that pharmaceuticals are a continuation of the age old traditions of herbalism. Human beings are simply always on the look out for any thing any where, whether it be forest floor or big pharm laboratory for substances that will help with our ills and illnesses. Whether they are there for the cooking or we must invent them, either way, earlier pulling at roots and then processing them in a caldron or later manipulating carbon and hydrogen in another kind of hot caldron, it is all a continuation of tradition, however different in appearance it may look.
Why herbs are alternative medicine and modern medicine favors only man made artificial chemicals and not nature made chemicals is not beyond my comprehension, but creates an issue for me. It simply is, frankly, prejudicial and has far more to do with economics and the official government approval process for healing substances. Now without a long discourse on the FDA and money — which I might save for another blog post — and again, if we saw medicine and its medicines in proper historical and philosophical perspective, I am quite sure that we would understand that: THERE IS ONLY ONE MEDICINE. Separation — and the separation is professional as well, there being physicians who prescribe man made drugs and naturopaths and others who use herbs (myself included ) in their practices — into alternative and conventional, traditional and modern, is unnecessary and unproductive.
THERE IS ONLY ONE MEDICINE. I think it time we created: ONE WORLD MEDICINE.