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A Rose is a Rosa Sericea Pteracantha is a Rose

By Michael Moore

Research regarding the active ingredients of herbs seems to be a key point for the acceptance of herbal remedies in the West. This research is very valuable. It lends credibility to herbal remedies, and the body of scientific knowledge naturally grows to include what herbal practitioners have known for centuries.

However, there is another camp of practitioners who would rather herbs remain classified and studied from the traditional perspective that classifies herbs by their functions and energetic properties, as is the case in Chinese medicine.

Chinese herbs are categorized according to their functions and properties within the Chinese model of the human body. The Qi of herbs have a certain temperature, their substantial aspect has one or more tastes associated with it. These properties benefit us medicinally when applied to the appropriate imbalance found through traditional Chinese diagnosis.

The active ingredient in Chinese herbs cannot always be accurately determined by scientific methods, practitioners of TCM understand that the active ingredient is not a chemical, but an energetic property.

The following satire is a humorous description of one man's interpretation of what happens when Western science attempts to understand a Chinese herb.

In the 1950s, some researchers in India found that if you gave some rats Centella asiatica (Brahmi or Gotu Kola) it took them longer to drown when dropped into a big barrel of water whose sides they could not climb. (I would hope these researchers were Christian, Moslem or Atheists, otherwise they've been doing Karma-Time as brine shrimp in bioassays or, if Jaina, perhaps even worse)

The Chinese added Panax and (Naturally) they started testing LOTS of their patent medicines.

Then the Russians added Eleutherococcus, Rhodiola, some Aralias and (Naturally) they started testing everything on their athletes.

Then Korean researchers started to work with THEIR Panax and THEIR patent medicines.

So did researchers in Malaysia and Thailand, reporting work on THEIR patent medicines and traditional formulas.

The dust settles.

The Indians start working on THEIR Ayurvedic patents, meanwhile claiming that Pakistan is stealing their secrets.

The Chinese publish 1,473 monographs on THEIR products that stimulate Non-Specific Resistance. The West completely ignores the monographs because, as usual, the Chinese refuse to use Control Groups. The Chinese counter that "Control Groups" are a capitalist ploy; it costs as much to NOT test animals as to TEST animals and the Dogs of the West and their Kremlin Bootlickers (it is now late 1960's) are only seeking to waste the People's Money. Taiwan may YET be invaded, since they, too, have been doing their OWN counter-research with Control Groups.

The Russians now have ALL their athletes taking Russian Non-specific Resistance herbal preparations, are marketing OTC versions across the USSR...and besides, Prof.V.K.Taktishtashvilli discovered the whole thing in 1827, while working with potatoes.

(In the U.S. Joe Namath had won some sporting event and in Great Britain, the Home Secretary is STILL denying any involvement, despite the blurred photographs making the rounds of the London tabloids, with Her Jeweled Crista Battlebum III, a prized Yorkshire Terrier)

t's 1970. We now have a body of research, purely observational, and using newly-developed bio-assay techniques, showing a number of plant medicines and traditional formulas and patents (including some Deer's Horn and plankton studies) that increase non-specific resistance and generally increase the capacity for stress in a variety of mammals... including us. All work to this point has been done with WHOLE plants and WHOLE formulas; their traditional uses were the basis for their testing, and the various countries (and the patent owners) are now marketing these products with new knowledge and a (perhaps) better understanding of their value in human use. Along the line, someone decided the effect needed a "pharmaceutical" term and invented the word "adaptogen" and "Non-specific-resistance-stimulant" was generally dropped. NSRS was a poor acronym, anyway, except in Malaysia, where it also meant "Female Wild Boar in Heat" in one widely-spoken language and was retained.

Enter (bumpda-bumpda-bump) the Medical-Pharmaceutical folks.

The Germans isolate 72 Panaxosides and Panaxolides, with three separate camps claiming "Their" group can prove which individual ones are Responsible for the Adaptogenisis. All three groups have completely different lists of "active" compounds.

The Japanese answer by isolating 473 (!) of these, but call them Ginsenosides, and can separate their effects into their effects on liver, pituitary, glucocorticalsteroid, reproductive, etc.

The Koreans ALSO find 473, but apply different numbers to them, and claim they can prove only THEIR Panax is the best.

The Japanese (the numbers AND names for the ginsenosides have already undergone three revisions, although one major pharmaceutical manufacturer has created a new constituent category completely, based on presence of ferulic acid skeletal remnants, but won't publish the specifics, since they are now patented) claim THEIR sub-species to be the best, as well as the phylogenetic precurser to the Korean variety.

The Germans have begun work on semi-synthetic (and patentable) analogs to certain ferulic-acid skeletal-remnant panaxosides, in a mutual agreement with an unnamed Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturer.

(Great Britain has found that Raspberries work splendidly. The FDA is pursuing Laetrile clinics.)

An adaptogen is now classed as a compound, usually plant-derived, that increases resistance to environmental stress in laboratory animals and humans. In some research circles the term has been changed to a newer one: Non-Specific Resistance Stimulants, or NSRS.

The Soviets win 1,212 medals (out of a possible 1,002) in the 1972 Olympics. The IOC promises an investigation.

A body of observations meant to explain the mechanisms whereby a number of traditional herbal medicines seem to enhance resistance to stress has now been reduced to gnarly, secretive, heavy-metal pharmaceutical in-fighting, in the attempt to market patentable pharmaceutical chemicals that will produce the effects of the original plants.

(There exist a few artful exaggerations in the above story)

Moral of the story: The adaptogenic aspect IS THE HERB.

If you enjoyed this article, you'll love all of the other teaching and clinical manuals, over 1,000 medicinal plant images and class announcements for the Southwest-School-of-Botanical-Medicine available at Michael Moore's Website:


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