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Essay/Term paper: Herbal extracts and hormones

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Alcohol and Drugs

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Herbal Extracts and Hormones


Herbs are found everywhere, and hormones are a natural product of
everyone's body. The production of hormones increases and decreases with the
age and development of the individual. Due to the nature of hormones and the
ongoing research still being done, this article will investigate only two
hormones that are in common use by the everyday person.

Herbs, on the other hand, can be found from California to China and as
far as consumers are concerned, they are now mainstream products that can be
found in supermarkets and drug stores world wide. Healing plants and herbs are
used by over ninety percent of the world's people. Mowry, pgs.1-11 In the
United States, with the introduction of herbal capsules and pills, people are
enjoying the benefits of Earth's good medicines. The herb industry has been
growing at about thirty percent per year for the past several years. Herbs are
being used in homes, for more than just spicing the sauce or glazing the chicken.
Herbs are being used as an alternative for medications as well. In the coming
years, we may see the introduction of newer and better medicinal herbs as
scientists Mowry pgs. 26-27 continue their search for the cures of all
aches and pains.

In past years, herbs were used for pains and aches. These herbs are
making a comeback because they have fewer side effects than regular medicine.
An example is willow bark Mowry, pgs. 43-49 which is being used instead of
aspirin. Aspirin was made from the active ingredient in willow bark. However,
people are using willow bark instead of aspirin because it does not cause the
stomach to bleed as aspirin does.

Ginkgo is being sold as a leading prescription drug in Germany and most
countries in Europe. Takagi, pgs. 96-101 This herb is growing in usage in
this country as more people age. It has been used in Asia for countless
generations. There is a growing body of evidence, as research continues, that
points to the outstanding effects of the Gingko tree on many age-related
disorders or sicknesses. This herb is reported to increase the ability of the
blood circulation system. It is a powerful medicine for the treatment of
restoring of a person's memory. Tagki, pgs. 3-10

A tea made from the Passion Flower or Valerian Root is used to calm a
person or relieve anxiety. These are thousand year old medicines used as
tranquilizers. They have fewer side effects and don't damage the body as Valium
or other man made tranquilizers. It is almost impossible to over dose on these
types of nerve calmer. Uphof, pgs. 19-31

The history of medicinal herbs begins long before the start of any large
society. Herb's were man's first line of fighting against the ills and
accidents that beset mankind. The ancient people learned from instinct and
from watching animals and using leaves, earth, mud and water. These things were
the first medicines. By trial and error, the early humans learned what served
them the best. Several of these early medicines are still used today, but are
more refined and better understood. During the hunt by early man for medical
herbs, the applications or taking of the herb was accompanied by the use of
magic sayings or dances. Today, for most of the technological people of the
Earth, magic is no longer needed. In the world which we live, many of our most
useful drugs are still considered to have originally come into use from early
societies. Some examples of these herbs used as drugs are: Digitalis (for the
heart) from Foxglove, Quinine ( for Malaria) from Peruvian Bark, Cocaine (and
its derivatives) from the Coca Leaf, Atropine ( a stimulant for nerve gas) from
the Belladonna plant, Curare (used in surgery) from the plant Strychnos (also
used for poison arrows) and the new drug Taxol (used in the treatment of Cancer)
from the Pacific Yew Tree. Weiner, pgs. 22-23 There are many others that exist
and are being used by the drug companies to treat many of the ills of people
today.

Technology permits the making of newer and more pure herbal medicines.
Herbs are used and prepared in China in the following forms: slices, powders,
pills, plasters, distillates, pellets, teas and drinks. In the United States,
we can find herbs in the following forms, in the addition to those used in
China: tablets, capsules, fluid extracts, ointments, granules, syrups,
suppositories, sprays, injections and ampules. Weiner, pgs.27-32

In today's world, people are too busy to make their own herbal remedies
and generally like clean, odor free, coated pills or gel tablets. There is a
potency and purity issue that is developing and the simple increase in strength
of a herb could prove harmful or deadly to human use. However, we should
welcome the standardization of all medicinal herbs, and making them from plants
that have been proven safe. Standardization has been introduced to off set the
negative effects of poor quality control which has been a big problem with the
herb industry. We can now reliably count on receiving the same quality and
quantity of a substance. Quality control is needed because nature does not
always produce a plant with consistent contents or medicines. Weiner, pgs. 31-35

In the 1990's, I see a wonderful return to the reality that we must
preserve our natural environment. The realization that we must care for the
natural drugs and herb that can be found in the shrinking rain forests, which
could contain hundreds of thousands of new compounds that could heal mankind.

The two major hormones that are being sold to the American public is
Melatonin and DHEA. I will discuss the merits of these two hormones starting
with Melatonin. Melatonin is an Amino Acid secreted by the Pineal Gland during
the night. This hormone plays an important part in the regulation of the
sleep/wake cycle. Each night a signal is received by the Pineal Gland to
produce Melatonin. This hormone is the one that induces sleep. This is
controlled by the amount of sunlight that is available to the individual. A
blind person is not able to stimulate the production of the sleep hormone and
this their bodies do not react to a normal twenty four sleep/wake cycle. Lust,
pgs. 91-96 A blind person trying to sleep when there is low Melatonin in their
system will have trouble sleeping.

Melatonin is available from several unregulated health food suppliers.
This means that there are no purity standards and people are self-medicating
with unknown dosages. Research at the Harvard Medical School show that
Melatonin is a potent cure Insomnia and does not have side effects. You can
already Buy Melatonin in drug stores, but no one knows the correct dosage,
interaction with other drugs or the long term effects.

DHEA is produced by our Adrenal Glands and is the mot common hormone in
the body. It is present in large amounts in healthy individuals. DHEA is
broken down by the body into other hormones such as Estrogen, Testosterone,
Progesterone and others. Research has shown that maintaining levels in older
individuals as those found in youth ensures energy, vitality and the support of
the Endocrine System. It seems that supplementing DHEA to levels found in
youthful individuals has anti aging, anti obesity and anti cancer influences.
It may also help to stabilize nerve cell growth and is being tested in
Alzheimer's patients. This hormone may help prevent the effects of aging,
hypertension, fatigue, depression, memory loss and obesity. Millspaugh, pgs. 22-
27

There needs to be more studies on the effects of herbs and hormones on
the treatment of many ailments. The evidence seems to support the claims being
made for them by sellers of alternative medicine. We are now entering a new age
where progress permits the manufacture of highly reliable herbal medications.
Many of the herbal medications are bitter in taste. New technology allows the
masking or elimination of these bad tastes. Science is making medications
easier to take and to swallow by coating or making gelatin capsules that hide
the odor and taste of a medicine.

Today, we are faced with a potency war and the saying "Small is
beautiful," or "Less is more," may yet become the normal way to approach drugs,
medicines or herbs. We should welcome the standardization of herbal medications,
and using only those herbal extracts and plants which have been subject to
safety and efficiency studies. The following herbs have been proven to have a
beneficial effect on people when used properly: Ginseng, Ginkgo, Ginger, Milk
Thistle, Bilberry, Echinacea, Turmeric, Orange Oil, Valerian and others.

Standardization must be introduced into the herbal industry. With its
aid, herbs can become reliable and we can count on receiving the same dosage
from capsule to capsule. The future of herbal medicine is very bright. People
are rediscovering plant remedies and are once again looking to nature for the
natural solution to the ills that man seems to be heir to.

With the growth of the herbal industries, Americans will join the
Europeans in taking charge of their own first symptom health care. The
increasing costs of conventional medicine and the many bad reactions to
prescription drugs have given a new meaning to the old saying, "Physician, heal
thyself." Herbal medicines are coming of age in America and not too soon.

Bibliography:

Lust, John "The Herb Book" New York, NY. "Bantam Books 1993 Millspaugh,
Charles " American Medicinal Plants" New York, NY. Dover Mowry, D.B. "The
Scientific Validation of herbal medicine" Leni, Utah.
Cormorant Books 1986 Takagi, K. et al "The Pharmacology of Medicinal
Herbs in East Asia." Tokyo,
Nanzando 1982 Uphof, J. C "Dictionary of Economic Plants." Germany,
Verlan 1968 Weiner, M.A. "Earth medicine" New York Ballentine Books 1990



 

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