Botanical and Herbal Tonics

Botanical and herbal tonics have excellent natural recuperative abilities along with a wholesome diet that includes fresh air, sunlight, moonlight, and exercise (physical, mental, and spiritual) in no certain order. Tonics made with medicinal plants, roots, herbs, and vegetables do their work gently and thoroughly-sometimes not as quickly as one would like them too; yet, no one can hurry Mother Nature and all of her glorious processes.

Botany is a field of biology and the scientific study of plants. Evolution by natural selection is the basis of botany along with growth, development, structures and functions (enzymatic mechanisms and metabolic pathways) based on the fundamental principles of chemistry and physics. The physical and material bodies of plants consist of the following compounds (i.e., phytochemicals and phytomedicinals):

Carbohydrates

Proteins

Lipids

Minerals

Water

Enzymes

Plants and herbs possess significant medicinal potency and have been used as traditional or indigenous food staples, medicinal substances, and medicinal ingredients. Both are still used in natural healing remedies, aromatherapy and flower essences (including aetheroleum and balsamum, essential oil extracts, incense, and resins), restorative elixirs and beverages (hot or cold teas, juices, syrups, hot or cold soups, tinctures, tonics, and potions), dietary and nutritional supplements, balms, hot and cold compresses, culinary flavoring and spices, dyeing, inks, and ceremonial rituals. For example, licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza uralensis-i.e., Chinese licorice), peppermint (Mentha piperita), cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum, synonym C. zeylanicum), bitter melon (Momordica charantia, balsampear), bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), and spearmint (Mentha viridis, Mentha spicata) are generally very agreeable to the taste and are able to cover up the gustation of many disagreeable herbal tonic recipes and curative remedies.

Herbal tonics have been used for thousands of years since the time of Ancient Egyptian physician Imhotep and have made great contributions to the health and well-being of many people around the globe from a holistic framework. Mead was the highly spirited “tonic” of Ancient Egypt consisting of fermented honey, water, and yeast. The Ancient Egyptian Papyrus Ebers (circa 1550 B.C.E.) offers information about the use of medicinal herbs that included caraway, cumin, fennel, myrrh, and peppermint. The Smith Papyrus (circa 1600B.C.E.) and Brugsch Papyrus (circa 1300 B.C.E) were also extensive Ancient Egyptian medical documents related to the Ebers Papyrus.

Vitamin and mineral tonics can range in potency and ingredients. There are drinkable tonics for almost every ailment and condition known to humankind; for example, Goji Berry or Wolfberry (juices, teas, and tonics), Vitamin B tonics, iron fortified tonics, tonic wines, Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) juice, and more. Search the Internet and one will find a plethora of herbal tonic recipes and remedies based upon early Folk or Eclectic Medicine.

Botanical, Herbal, or Spirited Vinegars can be included in the category of natural healing solutions as well. Some of the most common botanical vinegars are-Aromatic Vinegars made with fragrant lavender flowers, orris, rosemary, bergamot, neroli, apple cider, tincture of balsam, or tincture of benzoin (similar to Friar’s Balsam, Compound Benzoin Tincture, or Compound Tincture of Benzoin), and other aromatic flowers; Balsamic Vinegar (for minor cuts, bruises, and pain relief); Four Thieves Vinegar (a.k.a. “Four Thieves Wine”-the formulary for this vinegar dates back to circa fifteenth century southern France and was used for protection against the Bubonic Plague; today this is used by Hoodoo Root Doctors and practitioners for protection against psychic attack); and Rose Vinegar (for use as an astringent facial wash).

Botanical and herbal tonic formulae can be found in use from African Traditional Medicine, Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). These formulas can range from the very simplistic combinations to the complex in terms of their ingredients. Herbal tonics can be of the bitter nature called “Bitter Tonics” for use in the stimulation of one’s appetite (and the flow of saliva) while improving digestion. Chamomile, Columbo (Calumba or Colomba) Root, Quassia, and Peruvian Bark are fine examples of Bitter Tonic herbs. Herbal tonics most certainly include infusions or teas (i.e., pouring boiling water over herbs, leaves, or flowers and then letting it stand for a short period of time before drinking) and decoctions (i.e., a process of boiling roots, barks, woody chips, stems, rhizomes, and seeds).

Traditionally and historically, most herbal tonics have specific medicinal uses, functions, and properties as well as some being particularly for seasonal use. Not all herbal tonics or teas are meant for daily use. For instance, lemon grass, mint julep, and lemon verbena teas are perfect during a warm, summer afternoon. Use only the finest quality of superior herbs (that are sulfur, chlorine, and aluminum phosphate free) for your concentrated tonic extracts for potency and efficacy sake.

“Where a cure can be obtained by diet, use no drugs, and avoid complex remedies where simple ones will suffice.” Dr. Ar-Razi wrote this about 1,000 years ago as a means of alternative medicine practice stemming from Hippocrates (c. 460 BCE-377 BCE) who coined the following statements:

“Let your food be your medicine.”

“First, do no harm.”

From Lucius Annaeus Seneca’s (c. 4 BCE-65 CE) Letters from a Stoic:

“You’ve observed, surely, how a person’s limbs drag and his feet dawdle along if his spirit is a feeble one? And how the lack of moral fiber shows in his very gait if his spirit is addicted to soft living? And how if his spirit is a lively and dashing one his step is brisk?”

Dr. Ar-Razi understood this and based his holistic practice of medicine on balancing the mental, emotional, and physical processes and functions of the body where the balance of these is essential to good health. This is similar to being in homeostasis or the balance of the mind (mental), body (physiological), and soul (spiritual). Ailments, diseases, and malfunctions of and within the human body disturb this balance or equilibrium of one’s Yin-Yang, Qi, Chi, Ka, and Aura. Botanical and herbal tonic preparations possess natural, curative phytochemicals that can bring about balance within the human body.

And remember: There is no substitute for the careful use, safe handling, and application of botanicals, herbs, and herbal preparations in any form.