Saturday, November 20, 2010

How Can One Medicinal Herb Treat Opposite Symptoms?

photo used with permission under morgueFile Free License

Did you ever wonder why many medicinal herbs are touted to help seemingly opposite symptoms? It seems illogical that a single herb tea can be used to treat both diarrhea and constipation.

Dr. Andrew Well, M.D. explains this very well in an article I read recently at Huffington Post.

Using the example of the coca leaf he studied while in South America, Dr. Well reports that the Andeans use the whole plant as their number one medicinal plant.

“They use it to treat gastrointestinal disturbances; specifically, for both diarrhea and constipation. From the perspective of Western pharmacology, this makes no sense.”

You would think that the simulative properties of the coca leaf, the source of cocaine, could stimulate the digestive system and help relieve constipation. But, diarrhea? Wouldn’t it just make that a whole lot worse?

The coca leaf has more than one property. While cocaine is present in the greatest amount, the coca leaf also contains 14 bioactive alkaloids. These alkaloids actually inhibit the activity of the digestive system.

So how do you know which property of a medicinal herb will affect your body? If you’re suffering from diarrhea, you really want to know before you ingest it.

According to Dr. Well, “The state of the body, which is a function of which receptors in the gut's tissues are available for binding. During my time in Andean Indian communities, I collected many reports about whole coca's paradoxical, normalizing effect on bowel function, and experienced it firsthand, as well.”

If the body is able to choose the herbal properties of the whole plant that it needs to help it heal and function properly, the body will utilize those properties.

All written content ©2010 Patrice Campbell unless otherwise noted.