Chris D. Meletis, N.D., and Jason E. Barker, N.D.
Natural medicine had its beginnings in the use of whole foods at the outset of human history. Prior to the advent of modern encapsulated natural medicine, our ancestors utilized medicines in their natural states without improvements (other than by increasing supply and storage). A central tenet of natural medicine is that food is medicine.
Nature’s bounty is shown to be truly amazing when we consider the diverse array of natural medicines (and nearly 35 percent of pharmacologic medicines) that are derived from mainly plants and minerals. Hippocrates’ age-old wisdom stated: “Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food.” This adage eloquently highlights this principle.
The majority of humans who have ever lived on this planet (and those living today) overwhelmingly utilized natural medicines. The use of modern (conventional) medicines (as defined by substances other than foods) began roughly 150–200 years ago.
Advances in medical technology have even led us away from the whole-food approach toward a pharmaceutical mentality, as whole medicines are continually separated into increasingly individualized “active” components and placed into pills. Despite these technological advances in the process of identification and isolation of active components, we are seeing that this process does not entirely guarantee the ultimate use of a whole medicine. Humankind never matches the mastery of whole-food medicines in quite the way nature has assembled them for us.
Today, close to one third of Americans alone use some form of nutritional medicine currently. This is an optimal situation because processed foods and synthetic drugs take their toll on health. It is both amazing and not surprising that, in order to maintain normal physiologic functioning, we are dependent on whole-food derived supplements. Because of this, our choices in utilizing and understanding nature’s pharmacy dictate how we use this bounty from which humans have benefited throughout time.