zerostao

know your herbalist

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http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ny-attorney-general-targets-popular-herbal-supplements-131131797.html

 

i never like store bought herbs myself, the act of finding what you need/desire naturally in the wild, (not only avoids the long self checkout lines, and who knows what conditions their ingredients were mass produced in, but i didnt expect this level of ineptness(fraud) from retailers)(well maybe i did suspect a little, when i heard many vitamins sold at these retail wonderlands were made from coal) but it is always a joyous adventure to find wild bounty out in the wild. purple coneflowers have never been my target crop to harvest, but i do know where i could harvest them by the thousands freely and for free.

 

if going out into the wild isnt your cup of tea and you are not connected with a hunter/gatherer, you can always grow your own. there is great joy to be experienced by growing your own. and you have the peace of mind knowing what soil and water was used.(and what you are actually ingesting)

 

i do buy some herbs online myself, that i couldnt expect to find in my woods, for example yunnan baiyao. ordering online you can buy the raw unprocessed herb.

 

i could rant on about how many items sold on the retail wonderland shelves are in a form that isnt even bio available to you. i had a friend, when i told him that a couple of years, asked me "then why are they selling it?"

 

:closedeyes:

 

idk, go to gnc, walgreens, and walmart for your herbs if you like. some folks who live right by the ocean prefer to swim in a man made pool. some things escape me, i must admit.

 

 

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Chinese herbal patent formulas possibly contain heavy metals and pesticides. Lead and mercury has been found in some Ayurvedic formulas.

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I have taken Chinese patent medicines for around 25 years with nothing but good results and an improvement in every aspect of my health. Many,if not most, mainland Chinese manufacturers are certified by the Australian government for following the Australian Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) as set by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration.

 

For a hardcover discussion of issues of manufacturing and safety issues in Chinese Patent Medicines, see Jake Fratkin, Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines; The Clinical Desk Reference. My 2000 edition has a discussion of Australian GMP standards in Appendix 3, p. 1116, the book has been revised since them, but is still a bargain at a mere $75.00. You of course need to know how to use them.

 

As far as I am concerned Chinese Herbal Medicine is a very real and powerful "good" in the world, and the limited understanding of Western Doctors and Medical researchers is incapable of fully understanding it.

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Chinese herbal patent formulas possibly contain heavy metals and pesticides. Lead and mercury has been found in some Ayurvedic formulas.

 

Do you have a source for this?

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There is always quality problems, with 'el chepo' brands that you find in big box retailer shelfs. To the extent possible, i look for GMP certification, and cross my fingers after that. It is possible that companies that specialize in herbs could be paying more attention to their sourcing. Atleast i hope so, because i currently have Nutrigold, Now, Nuforma Naturals, Swanson, Thorne Research, Life Extension and Nature's Way as the brands on my shelf of herbals.

 

As a person raised in Asia, and having travelled extensively in asia, I can beleive that quality control is almost non-existant in herbal industry there. Why would they test for mercury and lead, when they can sell it to billions of people, who only look for "price" as the most important criteria ? Quality is not a focus in product development there, as much as it is a focus in western countries.

Edited by seekingbuddha

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The reason I asked for qualification is I felt rails' statement was too broad, and misleading for readers who have not done any research. There are a host of manufacturers in the USA who are sourcing their herbs responsibly, and selling patent Chinese medicine formulas. These guys are meeting the farmers, and wholesalers, and educating them on the importance of transparency, organic farming methods, herbal ID, etc. I haven't investigated yet, but I would hope that some of that practice may also be present in at least some of the Chinese manufacturers as well. No doubt that corruption, and shortcuts are rampant in China, but I wouldn't lump all Chinese medicine patents into one contaminated bunch...

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Thanks for link. I've been buying Gotu Kola and Ashwaganda from G.N.C. for awhile now. I at least thought I was getting results but after reading that I just dont know. Does anyone know any reputable sellers in the NYC area?

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I get my TCM formulas and herbs from companies that source from Taiwan, Singapore and California. The energetics of the herbs are a bit different as a result, but it's worth it to avoid contamination. China's domestic markets are too unregulated right now and those practices seep into their exports; and due to financial obligations, north American governments are getting more and more lax on safety oversight (except for when an herb competes with domestic pharmceutical companies, which is a whole other topic).

 

I also practice north American herbalism and I prefer to harvest locally myself. If you've lived in a specific area for 7 years or more, then your body is habituated to everything in that region: its climate, water, food, air, etc. Therefore, the regional plants will be more relevant to your constitution. It's best to team up with a local medicine person to find out the traditional uses. Books are great but nothing beats a wilderness walk with someone who has ancestral knowledge!

 

The TCM herbs I use in my practice are as a supplement usually. There's no real replacement for king herbs like panax ginseng, aconite, etc. Still gotta respect TCM even if its products are outside of our local biome. But yeah, wild harvesting that is local and sustainable is better. I just don't spread the word on how to do that because I don't want to see thousands of people combing the forests for limited resources. The kind of mass produced world we live in now is not compatible with wild foraging, and it would destroy everything.

Edited by Orion
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Orion, how do you guarantee the energetics? Herbalism is based on taste, temperature, and at least in TCM, channels and organs entered. How can you be sure replacing an herb sourced in China will have the same qualities as one sourced locally?

 

I often use wine as an example. A cabernet grown in Napa, Santa Barbara, Bordeaux, and Tuscany will have significantly different tastes - even when sourced from the same vine stock. Ron Teegarden often writes about sourcing herbs from regions where they were originally cultivated as you mention above (Ginseng, aconite, etc). 

 

Just a thought I've been playing with lately as I hear a lot of TCM students speaking about locally grown herbs….

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Perhaps if you brew it up to compare with the Chinese sourced herb...taste it and see if there are flavor differences. Or notice color differences in the decoction. Then see if the effects that you notice in the body, signs and symptoms, differ in any way.

How did anyone figure this stuff out in the first place?

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Perhaps if you brew it up to compare with the Chinese sourced herb...taste it and see if there are flavor differences. Or notice color differences in the decoction. Then see if the effects that you notice in the body, signs and symptoms, differ in any way.

 

How did anyone figure this stuff out in the first place?

 

Potentially, but I often find the herb tastes mentioned in the classics have no real relevance to my perceived taste. So I have to rely on the classic text. And beyond that, reformulating several hundred herbs and formulas would be a herculean task…. This stuff has been documented, argued about, reformatted, written again, and debated for hundreds of years. 

Edited by henro
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"How did anyone figure this stuff out in the first place?"

herbs have an energy a spirit and can communicate

 

There might have been this type of understanding in the roots of Chinese medicine, with the wu (maybe), but during most of its history this wasn't how they learned about the herbs. They've used all sorts of physical explanations for how they work, as can be seen often in the commentary sections in Bensky's mm.

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i am not a tcm or chinese herbal student, and i am sure that in any tradition it is like you say; the physical explanations and observances over time.

i have heard folk tales; early pioneer, native american, and i have seen very amazing practice technique of an amish herbalist,

where he holds  an herb outside of a person, kinda waving the herb in front of the person to discern if that particular herb will be of good use to that individual or not.

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Herbs are very good.

 

That is known.

 

What is not known publicly is that good jow good tonic and good tea can make you buzz very strongly and can remove blockages. 

 

In my home I have herbal jows tonics and tea's. 

 

I have my own catalog numbers at east trade winds.

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Orion, how do you guarantee the energetics? Herbalism is based on taste, temperature, and at least in TCM, channels and organs entered. How can you be sure replacing an herb sourced in China will have the same qualities as one sourced locally?

 

I often use wine as an example. A cabernet grown in Napa, Santa Barbara, Bordeaux, and Tuscany will have significantly different tastes - even when sourced from the same vine stock. Ron Teegarden often writes about sourcing herbs from regions where they were originally cultivated as you mention above (Ginseng, aconite, etc). 

 

Just a thought I've been playing with lately as I hear a lot of TCM students speaking about locally grown herbs….

 

You can use herbs grown in different places as long as you have the understanding that they won't have the same energetics. For instance, panax ginseng grown in China is warmer in nature. The same species grown in the U.S. will be cooler in nature, or so I've noticed. (Just to clarify, I'm not referring to "American ginseng" which is a different species.) Knowing this, I could use the American transplant to treat more people with deficiency heat conditions, whereas I would use the Chinese panax to treat people who are weaker across the board.

 

Hi Orion. :) Would you say more? Or point me to some further online reading? Thanks.

 

"Plant Spirit Medicine" by Elliot Cowan is a great primer.

"The Lost Language of Plants" by Stephen Harod Buhner, and the rest of the books in that series ("The Secret Teachings of Plants", etc.)

Any books by Michael Moore, probably the most famous west coast herbalist.

 

Your constitution is formed by: #1 Your parents, #2 Your acquired nutrition, #3 Your locality (food, air, water, the energetics of the land, atmospheric pressure, etc). You can use geomancy to determine the best living locations for your health. For instance, I tend to do better at higher altitude, mountain/forest conditions. Sea level ruins me. It takes approx 7 years for most of your body's cells to be completely replaced, thus if you stay in one location long your body will more than likely adapt to that regionality, and its medicines. For instance, I live in the pacific northwest where dampness conditions are rampant; most of the plants here treat dampness. I grew up in a much dryer location, but now when I visit dry locations they wreak havoc with my internal yin. My body has adapted to damper climates by producing less of its own yin, so that when I go to a place that has less environmental yin, I get dry instantly.

 

When I refer to energetics I am mostly referring to the western schools of herbal philosophy. The Chinese system only understood energetics in terms of which meridians the herbs entered. For energetics, the ecclectic herbalists of America had *the best* research before they were exterminated by the AMA. Fortunately, some kind group of souls managed to convert all their archived materials to an online library.

Edited by Orion
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