The use of botanicals (plants) in the form of Sacred herbs and spices to promote wellness has been clouded by what I like to call the “Three M’s” – mystery, myths, and misinformation. The purpose of this article is to bring herbal use back down to earth (no pun intended). The main goal of this article is to highlight the unique capabilities of herbs and spices to keep us healthy – unlike pharmaceutical drugs which are specifically designed to treat symptoms of illness.
On one end of the herbal spectrum, we find commercial interests recklessly pushing the latest miracle supplement. On the opposite hand, we find pharmaceutical interests undermining and dismissing the value of herbal tradition entirely. Unlike either extremist, I believe both herbal traditions and pharmaceuticals can harmoniously coexist in modern healthcare.
For example, when faced with an acute and life-threatening bacterial infection, antibiotics can be a lifesaving therapy. On the other hand, to promote general wellness and avoid “dis-ease”, herbal preparations in conjunction with good nutrition and healthy lifestyle practices are scientifically proven to be effective. So, what should we know about herbs?
First, herbalism has been a primary form of medicine throughout much of human history. Although Western medicine classifies herbalism as “alternative medicine,” plant-derived compounds form the basis of many modern pharmaceutical drugs. Plant medicines were depicted in ancient Egyptian tomb illustrations, where jars containing traces of herbal remedies have also been found.
There are three fundamental branches of herbal tradition which are the foundation of modern herbalism. They include Ayurvedic Medicine (From India), Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and Western (Native American) Herbalism. Although evidence of the use of herbal remedies spans the globe, the vast majority of herbs that have been researched are found in these three rich traditions.
How We Lost Our Way
With such an illustrious history one might wonder; “How herbal tradition was overtaken and replaced by the modern pharmaceutical industry?”
I wish that I could say that the pharmaceutical industry achieved dominance because it is a superior option to our herbal heritage. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The deliberate and systematic destruction of natural medicine in the United States has been well-documented in books and here in this article. The evidence strongly suggests that our modern pharmaceutical industry was born out of deception, greed, and commercial opportunism.
Not So Long Ago
I was having lunch with my mother, who was well into her 80s at the time when she started to reminisce about her childhood. She reminded me that her parents had migrated from Georgia to California when she was a young child. She vividly recalled her mother (my grandmother) writing to relatives in Georgia; requesting that they ship her herbs that had been a part of our family’s healing tradition for generations. She wanted me to know that my fascination with natural healing was merely a throwback to an earlier era.
Upon my mother’s death, I was further shocked to find several books on “home remedies” dispersed among her collection of cookbooks. These books, which were copywritten and the 60s and 70s by mainstream publishers, seemed to suggest that natural remedies were a popular means of staying healthy just a generation ago.
What Does The Bible Say About Herbalism?
Believe it or not, I originally had difficulty embracing what we now refer to as alternative or natural medicine. I grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist home. My grandfather was the founder and pastor of a small Baptist church in Los Angeles for most of his adult life. My mother describes him as a kind and gentle man who loved reading his Bible.
With this background, it should be easy to see why I was originally put off by some aspects of ancient healing traditions. To be honest, some authors tended to take these traditions in directions that I considered somewhat “woo woo or spooky”.
I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. I believe that when correctly interpreted it has the answers to all our worldly concerns. So, I turned to Scripture to see what the Bible says about the use of herbs. I was amazed to find that the Bible is quite explicit regarding the use of herbs.
In the first book and the first chapter of the Bible we find this quote:
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you, it shall be for meat.” Genesis 1:29 (KJV)
In the last book and lasts chapter we find another quote:
“In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Revelation 22:2 (KJV)
I find it interesting and not coincidental that the Bible begins and ends with powerfully explicit dietary advice related to plants.
What Does The Science Say?
With ancient tradition and the Bible on the side of herbs, I am not surprised to find modern science beginning to embrace herbal use. Although the research spending is nowhere near the levels of the pharmaceutical industry, studies are consistently supporting the effectiveness of herbs and spice to help us steer clear of disease.
The Bottom Line
It is a rare case when ancient tradition, Scripture, and science converge to support a practice. Herbs and spice as a means of promoting wellness, especially healthy immune systems seem to enjoy support for all sides. As it relates to our immune system, below are “Seven Sacred Herbs” scientifically proven to support immunity.
Ashwagandha: (Withania somnifera) has been used for more than 3,000 years to treat impotence in men and low energy in both women and men. Herbalists use it to reduce stress, improve concentration, and support cancer treatment. Recent research shows that it is an effective immunomodulator. Ashwagandha enhances nitric oxide synthetase activity of the macrophages, which in turn increases the microbial killing power of these immune cells thereby enhancing the Cell-Mediated Immune (CMI) response. In other words, it strengthens and boosts immunity according to the studies. ,,,
Astragalus: (huáng qí) has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. Its primary role has been to promote graceful aging and longer life. Modern studies have shown immune-boosting properties as well. Specifically, it is being increasingly substantiated by pharmacological studies showing that it can increase telomerase activity (anti-aging), and has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-regulatory effects. 
Burdock Root: (Arctium lappa) was originally cultivated in Asia and Europe. It contains powerful antioxidants. Holistic practitioners often promote burdock root tea as a detoxifier, anti-cancer beverage, and aphrodisiac. Studies show that burdock root has blood purifying properties. ,
Dandelion Leaf: (taraxacum) is a very potent source of nutrients. It has significant amounts of vitamins A, C, E, and K. They are also rich in minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Dandelion has antivirals and immune-boosting properties according to the latest research. , 
Elder Flower: (Sambucus flos) is the flower of a tree. An extract of the flower is used to make medicine. Elderflower is used for swollen sinuses (sinusitis), colds, influenza (flu), swine flu, bronchitis, and diabetes. Elder contains vitamin C and a flavonoid called quercetin, a powerful antioxidant. Elderflowre’s high antioxidant content makes its tea beneficial for protecting your body from oxidative stress, which is linked to common chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.,
Red Clover: (Trifolium pratense) is native to both Asia and Europe. It is a brightly colored flowers containing many nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. Red Clover is primarily a nutritive herb, but it is also used to support proper lymphatic function, immune support, healthy skin, and proper endocrine (hormone) function.,
Reishi Mushroom: (ganoderma lucidum) grows in various hot and humid locations in Asia. According to studies, one of the most important properties of the Reishi mushroom is that it can boost the immune system. Research in cancer patients has shown that some of the molecules found in the mushroom can increase the activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells.,
What Do You Think?
Do you find herbs and spices helpful in promoting wellness?
 Ruchi Tiwari, Sandip Chakraborty, Mani Saminathan, Kuldeep Dhama, and Shoor Vir Singh, 2014. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Role in Safeguarding Health, Immunomodulatory Effects, Combating Infections, and Therapeutic Applications: A Review. Journal of Biological Sciences, 14: 77-94.
 Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 50, Issue 2, February 1996, Pages 69-76
 Nutraceuticals Efficacy, Safety and Toxicity 2016, Pages 717-733
 Molecules. 2009 Jul 3;14(7):2373-93. doi: 10.3390/molecules14072373.
 Liu, P., Zhao, H., & Luo, Y. (2017). Anti-Aging Implications of Astragalus Membranaceus (Huangqi): A Well-Known Chinese Tonic. Aging and disease, 8(6), 868–886. https://doi.org/10.14336/AD.2017.0816
 Royal Society of Chemistry Adv., 2019, 9, 11092-11100
 Chan, Y., Cheng, L., Wu, J. et al. A review of the pharmacological effects of Arctium lappa (burdock). Inflammopharmacol 19, 245–254 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10787-010-0062-4
 Mol Med Rep. 2014 Apr;9(4):1381-7. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2014.1925. Epub 2014 Jan 29.
 BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Nov 14;11:112. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-112.