Essay On Natures Medicine

This booklet includes a free 60-minute CD interview with Susan where she discusses with a popular radio talk show host — in more detail than what's in the booklet — a variety of effective natural remedies. Many of these practical, inexpensive remedies she learned about from her grandmother, and they have been part of her holistic health private practice for more than three decades. You will also find out about Susan's essential 15 natural remedies and how to use them — the ones that she recommends to keep in your home's natural medicine chest for use by the entire family. 

To Order:

To order copies of this booklet/CD combo, or any of Susan’s natural remedy booklets in these pages, please call toll-free: 800-523-9971 (within U.S. and Canada) or 215-632-6100 (Intl), both ET between 8:30am - 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. For more information, visit:

Ask how you can receive a copy of this booklet FREE.

Media producers and hosts—please click here for important information.

Introduction toHerbs:Nature’s Medicine Chest


If we were to trace the roots of modern medicine, they would lead back to the rich soil of earth’s fields and forests. On every continent, stretching back centuries, native cultures turned to indigenous plants to develop healing practices. Over 4,500 years ago, Chinese and Indian healers began to organize bodies of knowledge about the medicinal properties of herbs. In the 1st century A.D., the Greek physician Dioscorides compiled a guide to 500 healing herbs, which endured as the standard text of medical arts through the Middle Ages. The European desire for curative herbs and spices of the Far East motivated Columbus to set sail in the 15th Century to find a shortcut. When he encountered the New World, he stumbled upon the herbal riches of North America and the vast knowledge of healing practices passed down from the Mayan, Aztec, and other native civilizations.

Humans relied almost entirely upon plants to treat illnesses both minor and serious up until only about 50 years ago. It wasn’t until scientists discovered how to make purified and concentrated derivatives of plants that modern pharmaceuticals rose to prominence. Today, in the American healthcare system, whole plants are rarely used therapeutically, but 80 of 150 of the most popular pharmaceutical products sold today contain active ingredients derived from herbal sources, including morphine (derived from the opium poppy), cough-relieving ephedrine (from Ephedra sinica), and digoxin, a heart failure drug (derived from the common foxglove).

Yet despite modern Western medicine’s debt to nature’s pharmacy, traditional herbal medicine and Western (allopathic) practice took divergent paths in the 20th century. Synthesized drugs began to take priority over the original botanical sources. American medical universities excluded herbal healing modalities from their curricula because such practices were regarded as superstition rather than scientific. In India, under British rule, the herbal traditions of Ayurvedic medicine were pushed aside in favor of Western methods.

Today, the paths of herbal and allopathic medicine are crossing once again, for a variety of reasons. The dangerous side effects of some pharmaceuticals, as evidenced in the recall of drugs such as thalidomide and Fen-Phen, have alerted the medical establishment to the pitfalls of chemically synthesized substances. Further, some conventional medicines such as antibiotics are growing less effective as antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise. In addition, a new understanding of the role of diet, stress, and lifestyle in the development of diseases has prompted a renewed appreciation for natural interventions. Perhaps, most importantly, a growing body of scientific literature is revealing that much of the wisdom of the ancients was scientifically sound; specific herbs can indeed have a positive impact on essential physiological functions and help protect us from disease.

In reaching for the remedies from the farm, not the pharmacy, we reconnect with our natural environment and with the traditions of our ancestors. My own grandmother, Fritzie, taught me how to take care of my body from head to toe, inside and out, using only natural remedies. She taught me how herbs can support healthy digestion, elimination, and sleep; restore weakened immunity; calm stress; soothe colds and flu; keep the heart healthy and bones strong; and promote detoxification and rejuvenation. Because of her wisdom, I have never had to take medication in my life.

In this booklet, my desire is to open my herbal medicine chest to you and share some of the most commonly used herbs and natural remedies for widespread ailments both minor and serious. In addition to imparting the insight of my grandmother, I’ll also be discussing scientific studies that confirm the efficacy of herbs to treat specific conditions. Finally, I’ll be answering some of your most frequently asked questions about the safe and effective use of herbal remedies. 

Astragalus Root

This is such a special natural remedy to me, I wanted to single it out here; it's covered in more detail in this booklet. Astragalus is an adaptogen and a preventative immune tonic. It fortifies your body's defenses before you "come down" with something. Not only does it reinforce the immune system, it also stimulates white blood cell activity and increases the production of health-enhancing antibodies. Additionally, it promotes upper respiratory function and helps to keep my system in balance. I take Astragalus root every day in one of these ways: liquid extract, capsules, tea, or in a powder form stirred in water or blended in my smoothies. I also use the powder in this healthy recipe for a peanut butter substitute.

Astragalus Butter

  • 1 cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • 7 tablespoons of almond butter (I also use pumpkin seed and hemp butters combinations thereof)
  • 3 tablespoons astragalus powder (I purchase it through
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil (I often omit the oil to lower the calories) 
  • Sweetener to taste (I don't use any sweetener, but you can use maple syrup, agave nectar, or another favorite)
  • Dash of cinnamon powder (Sometimes I add a dash of nutmeg)

Warm the tahini and the seed and/or nut butters in a double boiler. Do not use high heat. Stir in the astragalus powder and cinnamon powder. Add the sesame oil and stir until you get a smooth consistency. There are really no exact measurements. Add more or less for the consistency that you desire. Refrigerate and enjoy within two weeks. I spread this delicious, health-boosting spread on apple slices, celery sticks, whole grain bread, and even thin it out with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to use as a salad dressing. When using as a salad dressing, I often blend in a tomato, add fresh minced garlic, and omit the cinnamon and sweetener. Drizzled on crisp, organic salad greens, it's scrumptious.

Herbs: Nature’s Medicine Chest

48 pages, beautifully designed



In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look at them and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.

~ Louisa May Alcott

Nature’s medicine chest

Nature has proved a lucrative source for many drugs

From deep-sea vents to the plant-choked jungles of Brazil and Malaysia, scientists are scouring the globe in search of the next natural product to cure some of our most intractable ills. Nature is a treasure trove of useful chemicals, and today’s pharmaceutical companies are hunting for life-saving agents in animals, plants, fungi and bacteria.

Indeed, nearly half of all drugs were originally derived from natural sources. For instance, the most widely used breast cancer drug, taxol, was developed from the bark of the Pacific yew tree. An important cancer drug, vincristine, was discovered in the rosy periwinkle, native to Madagascar. Aggrastat, which inhibits blood clotting, is based on the venom of the saw-scaled viper from Africa.

Bioprospecting or biopiracy?

The industry has a long history of bioprospecting – hunting for natural drugs in exotic locations. One argument in favour of maintaining the Earth’s biodiversity is that medically useful products may exist in as-yet-undiscovered organisms.

A good starting point is often material already thought to have healing powers, often through its use in indigenous medicine. Some prefer the term ‘biopiracy’ to describe this ‘borrowing’ of native knowledge, as indigenous people may not benefit from the commercial development of pharmaceutical products.

Recently, profit-sharing schemes have been set up. Most notably, the Nagoya Protocol, which after several years of negotiations, was recently adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity. It aims to ensure that compensation is awarded to the countries and relevant indigenous communities where genetic resources are found, not only for the use of the resource but also for their native knowledge.

Lead image:

Daniel Sjostrom/Flickr CC BY

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About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Drug Development’ in January 2008 and reviewed and updated in August 2014.

Ecology and environment, Medicine
Drug Development
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development

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