Para Herbalism may be lightly defined as the ‘true herbalism gone bad’. True herbalism, on the other hand, is a specialized technique and approach encompassing the science of utilization of herbs in order to promote health and total well-being. The approach of true herbalism includes scientific testing and including of an unbiased reporting of transparent researches. Primarily, herbalists publish their works in order that it may be evaluated and subjected for further pruning. It can be said that true herbalism advances the cause of science – the accumulation of knowledge that may lead to progresses of human civilization. True herbalism is said to be undertaken by dedicated herbalists, researchers, and by the academe as a part of pharmacognosy.
Para Herbalism is said to be defined by the ten false tenets. These set of beliefs is said to be the salient features that differentiates the Hyde from the Dr. Jekyll that is of true herbalism. Here are four tenets of this belief that may do more harm than benefit the cause of true herbalism.
‘A conspiracy by the medical establishment discourages the use of herbs’. This belief is primarily provided for by the conservatists of the medical field who may oppose the rising popularity of herbalism and the known ‘green revolution’. The suspicions and the downright downgrading of the capability of herbs is one of the strongest pillars of Para Herbalism. Primarily, the increasing number of opposition to herbalism had been known to effect significant number of those often mislead frowners and disbelievers of herbalism. It had been said that this belief is a reaction of the pharmaceutical industry who had been rather caught unaware of the unexpected rise of the demand for herbs and herb-based products in the market.
‘Herbs cannot harm, only cure’. Though at first glance, this belief may do more good than harm, most herbalists are rather disappointed with this belief. Proponents of true herbalism frown on this as herbal medicines are not always ‘safe medicines’. Uninformed ingestion of herbs may likely cause active poising, specifically from those herbs and plants that are known to contain toxic alkaloids and zygadenine. Certain fungis contain a substance known as peptide amatoxins which are known to kill when ingested.
‘Whole herbs are more effective than their isolated active constituents’. One of the known proponents of this belief is Andrew T. Weil, M.D. who had supported that ‘drug plants, the whole forms and impure, tend to be safer than unmixed derivatives’. A point in case is that of the cinchona bark. People who may have ingested this herb may ingest a certain type of alkaloid quinidine, a known a cardiac depressant. Another herb that is advanced by most herbalists as an effective wound healer is comfrey. Application of leaves of this herb may cause the absorption of the skin types of carcinogenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, such as including echimidine and symphytine.
‘Natural and organic herbs are superior to synthetic drugs’. ‘Organic’ and ‘natural’ are terms used interchangeably that both describe plants that are grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizer. Para Herbalism had claimed in their 1828 thesis that the ‘pharmaceutical industry needs to stop fooling around with dangerous synthetic chemicals and return, once again, to the more natural substances God has placed upon this earth for our health and benefit’. This belief is deemed baseless and without factual foundation.