What is botanical medicine? It is the use of natural, organic, non-synthetic plant based-medicine for therapeutic purposes. It entails principles on pharmacodynamics (how it interacts with enzymes and receptors), pharmacokinetics (digestion and absorption route), and phytochemistry (primary constituents vs secondary metabolites).
As chiropractors, we cannot prescribe drugs; however, we will have many patients that are on pharmaceutical drugs, so it is crucial for us to understand how those function and interact with botanical substances. It is also our responsibility to seek out more natural alternatives that can benefit the patient without the side effects pharmaceuticals pose. There are so many natural substances that can have antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and/or antihypertensive properties. For instance, phenolic acids like benzoic acid are found in cranberries, which have antimicrobial functions; thus, cranberries can be used to treat urinary tract infections. For those that like to add rosemary, sage, or oregano to meals, these herbs contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties!
As I learn about these different herbs and botanical supplements, I’ve noticed myself becoming more creative in the kitchen adding turmeric, garlic, ginger, garbanzo beans, and pungent constituents (like cayenne and black pepper to meals to enhance absorption and bioavailability of nutrients and vitamins).
Turmeric’s primary effects are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, and it also has anti-hyperlipidemia, anti-carcinogenic, anti-hepatotoxic (enhances liver detoxification), and many more properties! It is a potent herb; however, it is not well absorbed so it should be taken in combination with black pepper to enhance its bioavailability. I’ve created a creamy turmeric pasta with bacon and chives that always sends my mouth watering for more! And now, whenever I have a headache, I reach for my turmeric supplement rather than ibuprofen. Turmeric functions similarly to ibuprofen in its anti-inflammatory effects but has few/no side effects (unlike the drug); thus, I feel like I’m learning to actually take better care of my body while also alleviating symptoms.