Dr Atta K. Bonsu
Every medicine, be it herbal or synthetic or otherwise, are all products from nature. All modern, synthetic drugs common in drug stores and pharmaceutical shops are extracts from natural elements. In the same manner traditional, herbal medicines also come from nature.
Now, the only way that can separate medicines to either synthetic or natural may only be determined by the methods being used to prepare such products. As we talk about the dangers of drugs, it does not mean that every medicine in the drug store or pharmacy could be bad; in the same manners as we promote natural medicine, it does not also mean that every concoction a herbalist gives could be genuine – we need to analyze things properly.
Most of our pharmaceutical drugs are just nutrients from plants without high, hard chemicals added; some are just food supplements and even tonics. But the problem we face today is the influx of high chemical substances; fake, adulterated and substandard drugs also circulating alongside with genuine medicines or drugs. So you need much prayer and care if you are going to purchase drugs. Lest you use money to buy poisonous substances in the idea of buying drugs or medicines.
Indeed, this calls for wisdom and thorough-analysis to chose herbal line: which is safer than the orthodox drugs line. When I advise that we should use herbs, it does not mean that any concoction that a herbalist gives could be genuine. Remember money-minded and inexperienced, unqualified practitioners are all over.
Typical examples are those who use chemical preservatives in preserving herbal preparations. Some do not even mind to make decoction of herbs, bottle them and add chloroform as a preservative. Some of the concentrated so-called alcoholic bitters could be harmful at times. Especially, when these alcoholic bitters are continuously used for a considerable long period, the adverse effects are many times dreadful.
Old, strong tinctures and bitters like “Swedish bitters” was discovered and used for long. It has really helped many, bringing relief to serious diseased pains. But it was prescribed and used on acute cases for a short period of time; and enough dilution if it were taken for chronic, long standing cases. But today, the bitters is all over to an extent that one finds it difficult to lay hands on genuine ones – even though direction was given to make personal preparations.
That is the spirit of Africans; people will not discover, but immediately a product has gained popularly, and selling, then people produce adulterated ones. So Swedish bitters are all over, but it could be dangerous if not wisely used on patients, because they are mostly prepared with high alcoholic substances. Therefore, its internal use requires much discretion and care.
Safe Preparation of Herbs
We have studied that herbs have no side effects. It is not harmful to use anything that comes from nature directly. But, if it is wrongly used, then it may produce some wrong effects. Before man was created, herbs had been already created, and every organ in the human body has their respective herbs that treat them, in case there are some damages.
There are plants for the eyes, plants for the brain and its numerous nerves; others for the mouth, throat, nose and ears. Those for the heart, the arteries, the sexual organs (both male and female); plants for the locomotive system (movements), and many others that we cannot mention.
All these plants can be used either as vegetables in meals or used as medicines. That is to say, if man would select, combine and prepare these vegetables in simplest manner as possible and used, he may not easily get sick and die unnaturally. So, when you see somebody complaining of the eyes, without any congenial cause like accidents, it means his eyes starve nutrients (food) they require to live on.
The most important issue, which may need your interest, is when sickness finally comes; you need to exercise the brain ever than before, however, with unceasing prayers to know the cause, and the steps to take. When it becomes inevitably necessary for you to take in some herbs to regain what the body has lost, then you may need to advance the mind to use but only safe and effective herbal medicines, which are prepared in the natural and simplest manner as possible. But not moving haphazardly to use dangerous herbal concoctions, which you do not even know the source and components.
In a rational way, when sickness comes; you can even stay without bothering much about taking medicines (modern or herbal). You stay and eat properly; drink good water, do exercises and breathe in pure air and rest when needful. You realize that, the recuperative forces will extract the useful forces left in you, especially from the immune response, to fight the disease, without you taking a drug or medicine. That is how the Creator created all animals including man.
These recuperative forces in collaboration with the working of the immune system, are what most Africans lack, due to perverse eating, drinking and harmful living, which generally mar the physical and mental powers of man. And, honestly, this is the principal cause of Africans dying of weak immune diseases like HIV/AIDS – than any group of people. People do not eat properly with biology, we drink anything that comes across our eyes, including sugary and alcoholic drinks, and we are morally weak in indulging in illicit sexual games and all sensual, licentious practices, so, that when we are attacked by the disease, there is nothing to safe us.
As I have earlier advised, if these factors are not properly studied, envisaged into our individual’s health programmes, you can be tricked, sometimes, to use certain dangerous, harmful, natural medicines in the idea of taking natural, safe things from God. There are so many ways of practicing a healing act, but not all of the ways are safe, and thus sanctioned by the Creator to be used.
We are bound to pray for a “spirit of discernment and temperance”. You need to be ever temperate in all that you do, even than before, because we are in the most dangerous times. We are living now in a world full of tricks. Be careful of any advices that men give. This dispensation love money more than human beings, the neighbour. Many cheat and rob in the name of God and all that God has created.
In fact, I thank God that I am a Christian or a worshipper and servant of Him. Christianity and God’s religion have opened my eyes to an extent that, even though I am small and young, yet it is not easy to be tricked and fooled. Do not waste time on things that do not portray the beauty of God’s providences. Pray for that “spirit of discernment”, you may receive it.
Many have made religion a “curse” whereas God is calling for many. We all want to go to Heaven, no one wants to die in hell, but religion, especially Christianity has become a show, fashion and money display. Many peasant Africans do not want to hear the word “herbalist” or anything “herbal”, because most of the places of practice have become abysses of “spiritualism and spiritism”, where wonderful stories and lies are told and dangerous concoction are prepared and given.
So, what God has blessed and the true medical line of work has been profaned and blasphemed by these sorcerers. “But by their words and fruits you may know them”. You go to a pastor or a traditionalists then he tells you that “your mother is the cause of your problem”, excuse him; such places God is not there, he wants to rob you of your monies, he wants you to be cursed, after allowing you to start cursing your mother. You go to where you may be advised to drink daily your urine as medicine, excuse the person, it is not a rational remedy. You go to an herbalist, all his medicines are alcohol, alcohol; he wants to ruin your health, run away from him. I am teaching you wisdom, if you have ears: listen!
Methods Of Preparing Natural Medicines
In fact, the season you gather herbs has a great influence on the medicine. The drying, the packaging and storage, and the methods of preparation; all these can determine the potency and the efficacy of the medicines. The following are general directions and main ways to preparing herbs.
Infusion: By far, this is the best way of preparing herbs to obtain the fullness of their properties. Soaking the medicine in either cold or hot (boiling) water as tea to infuse or extract its potency. Most infused herbs are either powdered or in granule forms.
Decoction: This method was very common amongst our ancestors. Just pour water over herbs in pots (clay pot the best), and boil for some time depending on the nature of herb used. Leaves do not require long boiling (even not boiling but to simmer). But tree barks and roots chopped into cubes may be simmered (slow boiling) for long, depending on their respective hardness.
Tinctures and Extracts: These are very high concentrated form of herbal concoctions. These can be done either by infusion or decoction. Just to make the concentration high in order to use in small quantities, for people who are very diseased and weak and those who find it difficult to take herbs, especially bitter ones. (But modern herbalists have changed these tinctures and extracts into alcohol and “bitters” as it is so-called). An extract is about six to ten times concentrated than tinctures.
There are other methods such as poultices: which is by making an herb in a paste (mud) form to apply topically on the skin to work on diseases. There are herbal salves, liniment and balms; for external cases like wounds, sores, sprains, fractures and painful diseased joints, as massages. There are syrups too, that are mostly prepared with sweets like molasses and honey to treat cough, asthma and others.
However, for all these methods, it is only liniments which the olden people used alcohol, and modern practitioners use as well. And as we are all aware, liniments are mostly used on the external part of the body, especially in massages. But the way modern herbalists use alcohol in most herbal preparations makes one scared of their uses.
I fear those alcoholic herbal concoctions; and I do not see them as part of nature we are advocating for the people. Herbal preparations should be prepared fresh everyday, and drink as tea to heal diseases gradually, but not drinking of strong alcoholic beverages. May God bless us for our proper understanding.
Back to Articles