The use of plant extracts for healing and wellness is not a new concept. For centuries, our ancestors relied on the power of plants to treat various ailments and support overall well-being. This age-old practice has been passed down through generations, carrying valuable insights into natural remedies and traditional therapies. We will explore the ancestral practice of healing with plant extracts and rediscover the wisdom that holds the potential to enrich our modern wellness journey.
Until the late 20 th century, the primary medicine available to keep the human species alive was botanical medicine, or herbs. Botanical medicine and the healing power of plant extracts has been with us since before the dawn of time. Archeologists have found evidence of herbal collections from 60,000 years ago.
Of the 391,000 species of plants on earth, some are trees in your neighborhood, some are vegetables and fruit in your grocery store, and some become favorites of the apothecary. 40% of modern drugs (OTC and prescription) are derived from plants or are a synthesized variation of plant extracts.
The beginning of all life on earth is photosynthesis. Plants harness the sun’s energy and combine carbon dioxide in the air with water to yield sugar, glucose. From that humble beginning, add some nitrogen and trace minerals, and the plants become Merlin the Magician in creating a bewildering assortment of phytochemicals.
Plant Extracts: An Exotic Phytochemical Soup
There are over 8000 known bioflavonoids in plants and another 700 known carotenoids. And this is just the beginning of the phytochemical soup produced by the plants of the earth. Some of these phytochemicals are so deadly that you not only cannot eat it, but cannot even cook your food over it, such as oleander. Yet oleander extracts are now being standardized and used to treat advanced cancer patients, with noteworthy success and minimal toxicity.
Remember: the difference between a medicine and a poison is dosage.
In Dr. Kelly Turner’s brilliant book, RADICAL REMISSION, she interviewed people who were diagnosed with a stage 4 poor prognostic cancer and did not use traditional oncology and went into complete remission. Dr. Turner found 9 common strategies used by these cancer victors, including a plant-based diet and use of herbal medicines. The other 7 strategies were psycho-spiritual: community involvement, sense of purpose, hope, etc.
Rediscovering Ancestral Remedies for Modern Wellness
Our ancestors practiced botanical medicine all day every day–in the kitchen. We have a tendency to think of herbs as mysterious plant concoctions blended up for a very sick person by some eccentric older woman (the quintessential herbalist), in fact, our ancestors ate potent anti-cancer herbs in their diet and as seasonings each day.
Columbus set sail in a mad suicidal adventure over the edge of the Earth in the unlikely event that he might find the Spice Islands, near India. Spices (a.k.a. seasonings, herbs, botanicals) have been used throughout history as a flavoring agent, preservative, and to cover the rotting stench of unrefrigerated food. As an unintentional by-product of using these seasoning agents our ancestors were able to keep the cancer incidence well below what we currently have.
Plant Extracts: A Historical Journey of Their Significant Role in Medicine and Beyond
“Nature to be commanded must be obeyed.” Francis Bacon, founder of scientific research, circa 1500
“Behold, I have given you every green plant, and it shall be food for you.” Genesis 1:29
Ologomeric is just one example of a potent plant extract and is just the tip of the iceberg when delving into the healing powers of plant extracts. This chapter in my book alone could have been 1000 pages. We have spared you the onerous task of reading such a tome. We encourage you to work with a trained herbalist for best results.
Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC) 100-1000 mg.
Potent antioxidant, supports vitamin C functions, penetrates the blood-brain barrier, reduces capillary fragility, enhances peripheral circulation, protects DNA from damage by radiation and chemotherapy
Scurvy (deficiency of vitamin C) has played a huge role in human history. Humans roamed the oceans of the world throughout the 15th through the 19th centuries, often losing up to half of the people on board ship due to scurvy. The English physician, James Lind, discovered that limes cured scurvy in 1747 and began to wind down the death toll from scurvy, while also labeling the English sailors as “limeys”.
Healing Power of Plant Extracts
Exploring Bioflavonoids and other Nutrients
In 1930, Nobel prize winner, Albert Szent-Gyorgy, MD, PhD, isolated pure vitamin C. Ironically, the pure white crystalline vitamin C that Dr. Szent-Gyorgy isolated would not cure bleeding gums, whereas the crude brown mixture of citrus extract would. The difference between these two mixtures was “bioflavonoids”, which include over 8,000 different chemical compounds that generally assist chlorophyll in photosynthesis and protect the plant from the harmful effects of the sun’s radiation. The rainbow colors of fall foliage are Nature’s art exhibit of bioflavonoids and carotenoids.
Some of the main categories of bioflavonoids include:
- anthocyanins; deep purple compounds found in black grapes, beets, red onions, and berries catechins and epigallocatechin, which are polyphenols found in apples and green tea
- ellagic acid, a true anti-cancer compound found in cranberries, raspberries, and other berries
- flavones, found in citrus fruit, red grapes, and green beans
- flavanols, such as quercetin, myricetin, found in kale, spinach, onions, apples, and black tea
- flavanones, such as hesperidin and naringen, found in citrus fruits of grapefruit, oranges, and lemons.
Exploring the Power of Bioflavonoids: Rutin, Hesperidin, Quercetin, and More for Health and Wellness
Some of the better-known bioflavonoids include rutin, which is defined in the DORLAND’S MEDICAL DICTIONARY as capable of “preventing capillary fragility.”
Hesperidin, quercetin, pycnogenol from pine bark, and proanthocyanidins are other popular bioflavonoids. While bioflavonoids are known to be essential in the diet of insects, bioflavonoids are not yet considered essential in the human diet.
As the science of nutrition matures, we are finding that some of the “star” nutrients of the past may be just “supporting actors” for the real star nutrients. For instance, tocotrienols and coenzyme Q may be more important than vitamin E in human health.
Understanding the Intricacies of Plant Extracts
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA from fish oil), though not considered essential, may be more important than alpha-linolenic acid (ALA from flax oil), which is considered essential. And bioflavonoids may be more important than vitamin C. OPC bound to phosphatidylcholine (lecithin) has been shown to improve absorption and cell access to OPC. Animals with implanted tumors lived longer when given anthocyanin from grape rinds. Flavonoids administered in the diet of rats helped to reduce DNA damage from benzopyrene carcinogens. Bioflavonoids are potent chelators, helping to eliminate toxic minerals from the system. Bioflavonoids in general help to reduce allergic reactions, which create an imbalanced immune attack against cancer and infections.
Plant Extracts May Help Prevent Cancer
OPC traps lipid peroxides, hydroxyl radicals, delays the onset of lipid peroxidation, prevents iron-induced lipid peroxidation, and inhibits the enzymes that can degrade connective tissue (hyaluronidase, elastase, collagenase), which then helps to prevent cancer cells from “knocking down the walls” of surrounding tissue for metastasis. Bioflavonoids may inhibit tumor promotion. Bioflavonoids enhance the activity of T-lymphocytes. Various flavonoids have produced striking reductions in cancer incidence in animals, sometimes up to almost total inhibition of tumorogenesis.
Potent Plant Extracts in Herbal Therapy
It is very clear that a plant-based diet is good for your health. But that could mean French fries and catsup, which are all plant food. Since you cannot patent a substance that already exists in nature, Big Pharma is not interested in researching these potent plant compounds. For optimal health, include abundant plant foods (fruit, vegetable, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, mushroom, seaweed, spices) in your diet along with some well targeted herbal therapy designed by an expert.
15 Popular Plant Extracts and Their Uses
- Aloe Vera Extract: Uses: Soothes skin irritations, sunburn relief, moisturizes skin, promotes wound healing.
- Peppermint Extract: Uses: Aids digestion, eases indigestion and bloating, relieves headaches, and has a cooling effect.
- Chamomile Extract: Uses: Promotes relaxation, helps with sleep and anxiety, soothes skin irritations.
- Lavender Extract: Uses: Calming and stress-relieving properties, aids in relaxation and sleep, soothes skin.
- Echinacea Extract: Uses: Supports the immune system, may reduce the severity and duration of colds.
- Green Tea Extract: Uses: Rich in antioxidants, may support heart health, and aid in weight management.
- Turmeric Extract (Curcumin): Uses: Anti-inflammatory properties, may help alleviate joint pain, supports digestion.
- Ginseng Extract: Uses: Supports energy and vitality, may enhance cognitive function and reduce stress.
- Ginger Extract: Uses: Aids digestion, reduces nausea and motion sickness, may help with inflammatory conditions.
- Ginkgo Biloba Extract: Uses: May improve cognitive function, memory, and circulation.
- Rosemary Extract: Uses: Rich in antioxidants, supports memory and cognitive function.
- Hawthorn Extract: Uses: Supports heart health and cardiovascular function.
- St. John’s Wort Extract: Uses: Traditionally used for mood support and to relieve mild depression.
- Saw Palmetto Extract: Uses: Supports prostate health in men.
- Licorice Root Extract: Uses: Soothes digestive issues, supports respiratory health, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s important to note that while many of these plant extracts have been traditionally used for various purposes, scientific research on their efficacy and safety is ongoing. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using plant extracts or herbal supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions or are taking other medications.
2 . Koide, T., et al., Cancer Biotherapy & Radiopharmaceuticals, vol.11, p.273, Aug.1996
3 . LeBon, AM, et al., Chem.Biol.Interactions, vol.83, p.65, 1992