5 Poisonous Herbs Used in Western Medicine: A Wake-up Call
For centuries our ancestors used plants and natural resources to heal. There were wise women, midwives, and folk healers who knew how to heal using herbs, observation and faith. When modern medicine was established, doctors and companies took over the healing industry and the folk healers were shut out. The medicinal herbs began to be called poisonous herbs. The midwives’ remedies were replaced with “heroic” medicine – including bleeding, leeches, and other dangerous practices. But eventually doctors realized the science behind herbs actually worked. And so these “deadly” herbs were used to make “controlled” pharmaceuticals.
Poisonous Herbs In Your Medicine Cabinet?
Today, medications derived from plant sources stock the majority of pharmacy shelves. What’s interesting is the same herbs pharmaceutical companies process into medications they also warn consumers against. Scare tactics are used to keep the public dependent on doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Dependence = money. This is why politicians are trying to outlaw the layperson from growing herbs in their own backyard. AND why midwives are a low population in the American medical field (and why they perform OB/GYN care and nothing else).
1. Belladonna: A Poisonous Herb and Painkiller
Beware the poisonous Belladonna plant! One berry can kill you instantaneously. Or at least that’s what we have been told for years. My interest in poisonous herbs and their pharmaceutical uses peaked while I was in nursing school. A pill was given to a patient called “belladonna”. I asked the nurse whom was teaching me, “is this medication derived from the poisonous herb belladonna?” To which he flippantly responded, “oh, I don’t think so. It’s just a medication.” Being inquisitive as I am, I went home and did my research. In fact the “deadly” plant Atropa belladonna has chemical compounds used by doctors for multiple reasons.
Some modern medications derived from the Belladonna plant include:
Belladonna – medication used as a sedative and to calm whooping cough and bronchial spasms. Also used to treat colic, motion sickness, hay fever, Parkinson’s and is also used as a painkiller. It also has indications in treating certain psychiatric disorders via a medication-filled transdermal patch.
Atropine – used to block the action of acetylcholine (a chemical mediator your body makes) to decrease secretions and to control stomach spasms. It’s also prescribed to treat IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), along with other ailments.
Hyoscyamine – another med derived from Belladonna and used as an antimuscarinic to treat GI disorders and in end-of-life care to decrease secretions. Also used as an adjunct medication with opioid to decrease pain levels.
Scopolamine – anticholinergic and antimuscarinic used to treat nausea and vomiting post-operatively. Also used for eye diseases and disorders. And, like Hyoscyamine, is also used as an adjunct therapy to painkillers.
So what’s the deal here? Why is it that we’re told the Atropa belladonna plant is too dangerous and yet its chemicals are used in pharmaceuticals? To keep us dependent on the doctors and pharmaceutical companies. To keep our money in their pockets. Midwives and folk healers knew about the medicinal uses of Belladonna plant hundreds of years ago.
2. Poppy: The Poisonous Herb of Death
There is one particular type of poppy flower illegal to grow, own, buy: the “opium poppy”, Papaver somniferum. A flower from which opium and poppy seeds are harvested. Opium is used to make heroin, an illegal drug in the U.S. and elsewhere. In addition to making a deadly, addictive street drug, opium from poppies is also used by pharmaceutical companies to produce opioids or better known as pain killers. SHOCKER. Doctors use morphine, codeine, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone to treat pain after surgery and for chronic pain. These are all derived from opium – poppies.
While the opium poppy is portrayed as dangerous, it’s used by the same people who warn against it – the pharmaceutical companies. While these contents can be highly addictive in the wrong hands, they are also important in treating chronic pain disorders and to keep patients stabilized after surgeries. Historically, the opium poppy is an ancient flower used for centuries to treat stomach and eye disorders and for pain relief.
Opiate Use vs. Heroin
What I’m particularly confused about is this – why is it okay for pharmaceutical companies and doctors to get their patients hooked on opiates that kill them, but they frown on the heroin addicts in the streets? They’re all hooked on the same thing – opium from poppies. Think about it – the heroin addicts in the street aren’t lining the doctors’ pockets. That’s why. It’s not because they actually care about the people the drugs are killing.
End of Life Care Using a Poisonous Herb
Opioids are also used in end of life care in the United States, and in this manner are beneficial to the person who is dying of cancer and other painful terminal illnesses. These drugs keep the person free of excruciating pain and help the dying transition to a more peaceful death. In this regard, I believe opioids are beneficial.
3. Willow Bark a.k.a. Aspirin
The bark from certain willow trees is used to make Aspirin. Aspirin is used to treat pains such as menstrual cramps, muscle pains, arthritis, and gout. They are not a heavy pain killers like opioids. Pharmaceutical companies will tell you willow bark is dangerous and to never it without consulting a doctor. While willow bark can be dangerous if consumed in large amounts, it’s beneficial in controlled doses for aches and pains and to treat colds, flu, and other minor medical ailments. Be aware that willow bark causes blood thinning and will interact/increase the effects when used with other blood thinners or anticoagulants.
4. Foxglove: Poisonous Herb and Digoxin
Foxgloves are a common flower found in old world gardens and they’re also said to be toxic. This plant’s scientific name is Digitalis purpurea and, you guessed it, it’s used to make medications. Digitalis contains cardiac glycosides which work by increasing your heart’s contractions. Digitalis in medical terms is called Digoxin. This is a powerful drug. Prior to Digitalis’ use in modern medicine, accused “witches” a.k.a. the folk healers and midwives knew it’s power.
Before taking Digoxin one must make sure their heartrate is 60 beats per minute or more, otherwise Digoxin can ultimately slow the heart so much that it can cause death. This drug can also be toxic in that it can build up in one’s system very easily causing “dig-toxicity” which can lead to kidney failure and death.
5. Snowdrops Slow Alzheimers
In the UK, snowdrops are little flowers that are the first to bloom in the Spring. They are indeed a poisonous herb when ingested. However, scientists have found a way to use a derivative to make a medicine that slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. There’s also research being conducted in using the medication as a treatment for HIV. Learn more about it here.
What’s the Point?
I’m by no means encouraging anyone to go out and start treating themselves with poisonous herbs. I am merely trying to draw attention to the fact the medical industry is using scare tactics against herbs to keep people dependent. If you’re interested in using herbal remedies in a controlled, healthy manner, I recommend seeking an herbalist or Chinese doctor in your area. OR take an in-depth course on herbalism. Don’t fear nature and its remedies. Fear the companies who want to keep the wool over your eyes.