Synergy and Posology of Herbal Preparations.
When a lay person examines a medical text book, with its arcane title and equally obscure contents. It is forgivable to assume, that as a specie, we know more than we actually do. A close examination, of a text book of Organic and Biochemistry, will reveal its cobweb like structure i.e. more holes than substance. Herbal Medicine is based upon thousands of years of Empirical knowledge. To date, Scientific knowledge, has only managed to confirm the validity of Empiric knowledge in relation to plant drugs.
Scientific Verification of Plant
There are over 50,000 botanically-derived compounds with antimicrobial characteristics, but many of them are relatively weak and have narrow specificity, says Kim Lewis, a professor of biology at Northeastern University. "In short they're all junk," he said.
But why would plants with millions of years of evolution combat microbes with such weak ammunition? Logically, this didn't make sense, Lewis said. He therefore began looking for factors that might improve the compounds' antimicrobial power.
Plant compounds are very effective at invading bacteria but are rapidly excreted out by bacterial multi-drug resistant (MDR) pumps. These MDRs are the same proteins that confer resistance to antibiotics in human pathogens.
Inhibiting a bacterium's MDR may be the key to an antimicrobial's potency, Lewis hypothesized. Indeed, when he removed the MDR from Staphylococcus aureus, and then exposed the cells to berberine - a "weak" antimicrobial found in goldenseal, Oregon grape, barberry and other plants - the compound became incredibly toxic to the bacteria.
The researchers then found a natural plant inhibitor of MDR, called 5'-methoxyhydnocarpin-D (5'-MHC). Although 5'-MHC has no antimicrobial activity on its own, berberine is much more effective when given in conjunction with the substance.
"This is all snake oil and imagination or synergy," said Lewis. "Take one compound out and it doesn't work," but together they do. "This sets a precedent and now people are taking a second look at medicinal plants."
To assess whether plants use this approach widely, Lewis and his colleagues tested a panel of randomly chosen botanical compounds, in combination with synthetic MDR inhibitors, in a variety of bacterial species.
Numerous compounds like rhein from rhubarb, and resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, increase their antimicrobial efficacy several hundred-fold in combination with the inhibitors, the researchers found. The scientists have now also identified several more natural MDR inhibitors from geranium, artemisia, and other plants.
Implications of the Article.
All life, from single celled organism, to the incredible complexity of the human body, is part of a giant molecule that defies description. Ingested Bio-molecules are instantly recognised by the human body. Such evidence as there is would seem to suggest that it does so by the molecules spatial shape. The pharmaceutical industry is unable to patent natural compounds. Therefore their standard approach, is to isolate a compound that is considered to be the 'active principle'. Then a portion of the molecule will be snipped off or added to by chemical means. This 'unnatural' molecule can then be patented. Alternatively those natural compounds are produced synthetically by a totally different route to that of the natural process. The synthesized molecules have a different physiological effect to that of the natural molecules e.g. Alcohol which is produced from grains or fruits behaves in a different manner to that of alcohol produced by the synthetic route. This matter is soon settled by drinking some. No one questions that the different natural recreational alcohols are different in effect. That is why people tend to choose a particular type such as beer, wine, whisky and so on.
Each of the compounds listed is a chemical entity with its own specific mode of action. Therefore if we damage or remove even a single compound the 'Synergy' is destroyed. The cascading physiological effect of the herb whereby the homeostasis of human body is adjusted in a smooth and rational manner is totally disrupted by the ingestion of a single entity such as an alkaloid or glycoside and represents an assault on the human system as a whole. Normally the effects of this assault need to be ameliorated by the ingestion of a further entity to counteract the problems caused by such an approach. The crudity of which may be likened to attacking a computer with a hammer.
At the opposite end of the scale to this crudity we have polypharmacy which is the administration of two or more whole drugs or at the same time. At our current level of scientific knowledge we have no means of predicting with any certainty the outcome of such procedures. Still less so if we are to take account of racial idiosyncrasy and then of course the biological idiosyncrasy which go far beyond the approach of age and gender. There are over 200 years of Homoeopathic proving that validate the words of Paracelsus (q.v.)
' In one herb there is more power than all of the papers read in high college '
(1) Clark's Rule:
(2) Young's Rule :
(3) The Eclectic Rule :
Breast fed infants under 1 year would normally take the medicine through the mothers milk. The mother would take the adult dose and the child would receive a proportional dose across a 24 hour period.
(4) The Surface Area Rule :
Surface area divided by 1.7 x Adult dose = child's dose
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