Roy has been studying herbs and adaptogens in depth since 1981, and he is trained in Chinese and Western herbalism. He is considered one of the best teachers in planetary herbs and medicinal mushrooms and has written a couple of books on the issue.
What I really enjoyed about his lengthy lecture was the connection we all have to Earth (of course) and the plants that depend on clean air, water, and food to thrive. We, too, depend on these vital elements to keep us alive and healthy. If the environment is polluted, then chances are, our bodies are too.
So what can we do to protect ourselves and our unborn children from these harmful pollutants, and what are these endocrine disruptors anyways? Endocrine disruptors (EDCs) negatively affect the endocrine system of wildlife and humans. Our endocrine system is a set of glands that secrete hormones into our blood stream affecting growth, development, behavior, and reproduction (see link for more info). If these EDCs are known to be harmful, then what can we do to minimize their effects? Eating organic, choosing the right herbs, and lifestyle practices like exercise promote health and longevity, and Roy and his research-backed approach is very promising and very real about the healing and preventative properties that these herbs and mushrooms provide. It's a homeopathic approach that most Western doctors do not promote and/or know about it. Before I get into the herbs and mushrooms he discussed, I would like to share some of the statistics about our Western way of medicine.
- In 2009, pharmaceutical meds SURPASSED cigarettes as the primary cause of death in the US > 400,000.
- Americans have the worst health stats of any other industrialized nation - heart disease, cancer, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, and reproductive failure.
- We have the most expensive health care on Earth.
- We have the highest infant mortality rate of any industrialized nation.
- In US, a doctor will only treat a symptom that's objectively measurable before they will treat you regardless of what ailments you may or may not have.
- In Thailand, 1 in 30 women has breast cancer compared to the states where it's 1 in every 8 women.
Is it environmental? Roy seems to think so.
On to the herbs:
Roy Upton is proudly enthusiastic about the healing properties of herbs, but he says they should be used preventatively instead of as treatment alone. Preventative measures, like taking herbs and other adaptogens (which help our internal system adapt to environmental factors), can aid us in many ways. These herbs and adaptogens strengthen our immune and endocrine systems, can help regulate blood sugar levels, aid in blood flow, and enhance organ function among many other ways to help our bodies thrive. We can't have good medicine without good life, and he truly feels that by saving the plants and helping them prosper, we will end up saving lives.
A few herbs and adaptogens discussed last night include:
Ginseng - Tonifies organs, strengthens spleen and stomach, benefits heart, calms spirit, generates fluid, is an antioxidant, and aids in anti-aging. He cautioned young adults in excessive use as it is best to use for older folks.
Astragalus - One of his favorite tonics for the immune system and inexpensive too. It's good for 101 diseases of children. Linked to aid in cancer prevention and helps restore immunocompetency in cancer patients meaning that it helps the immune system recover from harsh cancer treatments like radiation, and the level of toxicity is so low compared to cancer treatments of today.
It can be added to soups and teas especially in the winter to "protect us from the cold" and build up our immune systems.
Lycii Berry (Goji) - Increases the production of red/white blood cells, suppresses cancer cell growth, contains lots of Vitamin A and beta-carotene so its great for our eyes too. Also aids in male fertility.
Can be eaten raw or use in soups & teas.
Schisandra - one of Upton's favorites! Many wonderful uses include kidney and liver function, generate fluids (aids in thirst), quiets and calms spirit, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cardioprotective. Very powerful adaptogen. Like Witch Hazel is an astringent for the face that helps tighten cellular walls, for our inside cell membranes, schisandra does the same - it acts as an astringent for our fluids. Wards off outside pathogens. For men over 50, it aids in urinary incompetence and helps rest fluids among other aids. Helps with sinus infections, mental function, mood, and also helps to regenerate liver function.
Bilberry and Hawthorn Berries - Hawthorns are considered a heart tonic, act as a sleep remedy, AND are used as ADHD remedies because of their calming effects on the body. Bilberry aids in the vascular system and is good for arthritis and our eyes. Both help a troubled mind and heart, and help to nurture, nourish, and calm mind and spirit. Can't argue with that!
The "magic" power behind these mushrooms is that they contain very high levels of beta-glucan - super boosters for the immune system!
Maitake - immune-enhancing and cancer-preventing properties. Calms mind. Anti-cancer activities of this particular mushroom include prevention of many cancers (lung, prostate, lung, liver, breast, and brain) and aids to relieve side effects of chemotherapy. Also used in treatment of diabetes and aids in stomach upset problems. Can be cooked in stir-fry or sauteed and eaten by themselves.
molluscum (a viral infection of the skin that is contagious and often goes away on its own). I, once again, am reminded at how in love I am with Dr. Ramos!
Shiitake - immune support is number one for skiitake and all other mushrooms. Antioxidant, and excellent source of B vitamins, fiber, and minerals.
and my new favorite:
Reishi - "mushroom of immortality" a traditional tonifier that has been used for more than 2500 years. Most widely used in Japan and was the most anti-cancer drug over all other conventional drugs for over ten years. Supports immune system, moves fluids and energy and known to reduce tumor size. These mushrooms have immunomodulating polysaccharides that contain antitumor and immunostimulating properties. Lots of big words with an even bigger punch. They are also known to help diuretic activity, control blood sugar levels, and calm the mind. Relieves anxiety, insomnia, and palpitations.
Another wonderful perk of medicinal mushrooms is there really aren't any adverse reactions and no negative effects of efficacy. If anything, it increases efficacy of treatment and reduces side effects of others. And if all others fail, at least there was no harm in its use.
I am no expert by any means, and all of this research above is from note-taking at Roy's lecture and web follow-up this morning, but I find natural medicine fascinating. What's even more fascinating though is the lack of support for a holistic approach in our country. Of course, major pharmaceutical companies cannot make money off of natural herbs, so instead they bombard us with antibiotic after antibiotic and many other, often times, harmful meds. Lots of medicines prescribed do a lot of good for a lot of people; I am not discarding that fact, but I do feel that we should all push for natural forms of medication when at all possible - even in conjunction with today's medicine. Of course, it's always best to talk to a health care professional before taking on any new supplement, and hopefully, they can find the best herbs and adaptogens to suit your needs. I hope you've found some of this information as helpful and useful as I have. "Live Long. Laugh Hard. Love Forever."
**to find a naturopathic doctor with holistic approaches to medicine, check the site below.
another site I've found useful: http://www.wildbranchmushrooms.com/