As a child, I was always fascinated by the Native American culture and its values. This amazing community has been living in total harmony with their environment for centuries. One of their core beliefs is the idea that we are all part of a vast ecosystem too complicated for us to understand. The Shamans knew that the biological world is a veritable photochemical pharmacy and that, for every imbalance or disease, there is a plant to cure it.
In the U.S., inspired by the Shamans, herbalist began curing all sorts of infections, and even treating cancer, with the use of plants. Another example of the successful use of plants is Chinese medicine, which dates back to over 8,000 years. However, despite great success, modern medicine has tagged herbalist as “Kwaks." There is a common misconception that plants and herbs do not efficiently work and that they are used by scammers to take your money.
In the early 1900’s, laws were passed that forced herbalists to close down their practice, only allowing the usage of patented medicine. Consequently, the Pharma industry was born.
Nowadays, thanks to the advancements in science, particularly in Nutrigenomics, another shift is happening in medicine. This change is steering us back to those earlier values of food being an effective form of medicine.
Today, Herbalists and Naturopaths are back in business, thanks to a growing demand for alternative medicine in opposition of current treatments. This increasing demand is due to the increased understanding that the chemicals present in pharmacology are damaging to our DNA. The chemicals add extra oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, which contribute to a faster-aging process and the development of diseases.
So, why is modern medicine may be bad for you?
To understand this, we must first learn about what oxidative stress means and what it does to your body.
Oxidative stress comes from free radicals, which are a normal by-product of the body’s energy-generating biochemical processes. As your body breaks down food and converts it into fuel, it produces oxidative stress. This is highly reactive with other molecules and, if not regulated by antioxidants, it can damage DNA, proteins, and cellular membranes.
Chemicals and pesticides found in modern medicine and food can create extra oxidative stress that causes inflammation and premature ageing.
Oxidative stress is normal and is typically regulated by the body’s antioxidants, re-establishing the balance.
These anti-oxidants interact with the free radicals in your system to ensure they are no longer a reacting with molecules. Antioxidants are found naturally in the body in the form of enzymes, but can also be consumed through foods especially vegetables, fruits, green tea, and even red wine.
Certain gene variants, such as Enos & SOD2, will tell you if your body is better able to deal with oxidative stress. For those with the "weak" gene variant, it is important to increase anti-oxidant intake to control the oxidative stress process and protect the cells from premature erosion. Moreover, these individuals should also avoid products that could increase the oxidative stress level and add inflammation.
Why is plant-based medicine better for you?
Plant are masters of the chemical world. They do not have as many defence mechanisms as other organisms to protect themselves from their environment. This has allowed them to evolve over millions of years with the ability to protect themselves while constantly adapting to their environment. For this reasons, plants have become extremely chemically smart.
Plants, such as fruits, vegetables, and spices, all contain phytonutrients that, when consumed, can benefit our body from a variety of chemical cocktails.
Wild plants that grown in fertile soil, such as forests, are even more powerful for our genes. They are much richer in phytonutrient content because they have been cultivated in the same soil for thousands of years.
Nowadays, it is harder to collect plants from the forest because of lack of knowledge, and for obvious logistic reasons. Nevertheless, wild botanical plants can still be found in certain health shops.
The Pesticide Phytonutrient Problem
Most of the plants found in supermarkets have been sprayed with pesticides to protect them from bugs and pests. The problem with this process is that the chemicals eventually make their way into the plants, and then into our bodies. Plants are not able to develop resistance to these chemicals, compromising their effectiveness. As a result, the plants will have poor phytonutrients that will not be as beneficial for our body.
Bitterness in vegetables is a sign of strong phytonutrient content. As some of you may realise, most vegetables fund in supermarkets are not at all bitter. For example, most broccoli found today is actually sweet.
To live longer and healthier, you need to provide your body with the necessary tools to protect itself from the environment. It is crucial to assist the linkage between photochemical nutrients found in plants and your epigenome (genes). Hence, consider introducing wild plant food with higher phytochemical content such as dandelions, nettle, and mustard into your diet.
Science is always proving how nature is best suited against potential aggressors. New developments continue to find evidence that tropical and mountainous plants can help prevent, and even cure, most common diseases. So grab that dandelion and supercharge your body!