The Philosophy behind our EthnoHerbalist site
EthnoHerbalist reviews the science behind the best herbal supplements.
70% of the global population relies directly on wild plants for medicine. Even in the Western world, about 40% of prescription and non-prescription drugs are currently derived from medicinal plants.
There is no question that plants play a key role in modern medicine.
The challenge is to decide which plants are most effective for your specific health concern. There’s a lot of information on herbal supplements out there…some of it good and some of it misleading. We’re here to help guide you through this information.
At EthnoHerbalist, we help you find the best herbal supplements. We look for companies with high integrity and high standards in their farming and manufacturing process.
How can you determine which herbal supplements are the most effective?
This is a great question. We consider the following three factors when deciding which plants to discuss.
1. The medicinal value of a plant is partly determined by the historical use of the plant.
The story of human civilization is interwoven with plant based medicine. Thousands of years ago, native peoples around the world fought for survival every day. Their only resource was the natural world. Through trial and error, these early foragers learned that certain plants were toxic or deadly, while other plants strengthened their bodies and improved their chances of survival. This survival information was passed down through generations, via shamans and herbalists. Consequently, future generations placed more value on these beneficial plants. Over time, the usage of these plants increased. Eventually the plant became an integral part of the native culture. The most effective plants would continue to provide health value for each new generation.
In this sense, the most effective medicinal plants were deemed beneficial through a natural selection process.
During the Age of Exploration in the 15th century, natural resources from one part of the globe were suddenly shifted to the opposite end of the world. As Europeans crossed oceans and explored new continents, they collected medicinal plants from Asia, South America, North America, Africa, ext. When the explorers returned to Europe, they brought their botanical samples with them. Herbalists in Europe then assimilated these new plants into their culture.
Throughout this ethnobotanical history, some plants have shown themselves to be broadly beneficial. They were first discovered as a means to survival and good health with native foragers. They then traveled the world and still delivered value to a diverse audience.
At EthnoHerbalist, we look for herbal supplements with a long history of providing health value.
2. A plant’s medicinal value is also determined through modern clinical trials.
The modern world is upon us. This has good and bad implications. However, one irrefutably positive aspect to our modern world is the development of the scientific method as a tool to answer questions. The medicinal value of a popular herbal supplements can now be tested systematically in hospitals and laboratories across the world.
For example, let’s say there’s a growing interest in the medicinal value of the Butterbur plant. Perhaps many people report that this plant helps them with migraines. This is interesting, although, this information may only be anecdotal (based purely on personal accounts). Its also possible that people are responding to the placebo effect, as opposed to a real biological effect.
Fortunately, we now live in a world where we can test the accuracy of a health claim. Now that we’re armed with the scientific method, specialists can design an experiment that will produce an answer to a specific question. Does the use of butterbur plants lower the incidence of migraine headaches?
The accuracy of the health claim can be tested in a laboratory and in clinical studies. Most of the scientists performing these experiment will adhere to high standards while designing their experiments because they want their results published in the best possible scientific journals.
Here at EthnoHerbalist, we examine the most relevant published results for one particular health claim.
We only consider high-quality scientific data. This means we’re looking for clinical studies that are placebo-controlled, randomized, double blind and conducted with sufficiently large test sizes. We’re also looking for significant results as determined by statistics (p values).
3. Your choice of herbal supplement brand will also determine the benefit you receive from medicinal plants.
To put it succinctly, some brands of herbal supplements are better than others.
We won’t name names, but suffice to say that certain companies mislabel their products. Certain companies do not adhere to strict farming and manufacturing processes. You want to avoid these brands. Recent investigations have revealed that many of the herbal supplement brands sold in big box stores do not contain the correct plant.
Fortunately, this problem is completely avoidable. There are many excellent herbal supplement companies that produce high quality plant extracts.
At EthnoHerbalist, we recommend respectable brands that verify the contents of their products with DNA bar-coding or chemical analysis. These tests ensure the purity and potency of the medicinal plant in each bottle. We endorse herbal supplement companies that grow their plants organically. We also recommend brands that follow strict manufacturing standards when processing the plant material.
We’re here to help you discover the best herbal supplements.