Total Body Wellness Through Tonic
The New Revolution in Herbal Medicine
by Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D.
The Bi-Directional Tonic Approach
As indicated above, consumption of a tonic herb will not push a body system
or process beyond normal limits. Furthermore, it doesn't matter if a system is
over- or under- active, the tonic herbs will help restore balance or normal
functioning. This is different from simply pushing the body in a certain
direction. It involves pushing the body in opposing directions, pushing the body
toward homeostasis whenever it would depart from normal, increasing the dynamics
of resistance to change or inertia while in a state of balance; in other words,
helping the body achieve and maintain balanced physiology at all times and under
all conditions. That is an enormous task for a few simple herbs, but it is
astounding how well they can do if given the chance.
This ability of a single plant to exert forces that act in two opposing
directions -- two actions that are directly opposite to one another --
distinguishes tonic herbs from all other herbs, and from all orthodox medicines.
In order to act in two opposite directions, tonic herbs contain groups of
constituents that act in opposing directions. For example ginseng contains one
group of substances to reduce blood pressure and another group to raise blood
pressure. Echinacea contains a group of constituents that raise white blood cell
count, and another that lowers white blood cell count. This extraordinary
property is unknown in orthodox pharmacy and medicine.
There are no tonic drugs. Drugs are simple, powerful chemicals that possess a
very narrow, uni-directional scope of action. Most herbs are unidirectional
also, although they are infinitely more complex substances than drugs and
typically exert several different actions on the body at once However, those
actions do not usually include a tonic effect. Tonic herbs will exhibit several
actions also, but at least some of those actions will be bi-directional, that is
acting in opposition. For example, echinacea is an unmunotonic because it can
either raise white blood cell count or lower it and will always tend to
stabilize white blood cell count within normal homeostatic limits. Goldenseal,
another popular herb, is an immunostimulant, its use will raise white blood cell
count, but the plant will not reduce white blood cell count. Hence, goldenseal
lacks tonic action and cannot be classified as an immunotonic. It is
uni-directional. Echinacea, in contrast, possesses true bi-directionality.
How Herbs Become Known as Tonics
The classification of any particular plant as a tonic requires that the
action of the plans meet certain criteria. Today, there are two ways the tonic
action of a plant can be determined. First, it can be established through a long
history of demonstrated bi-directionality. These are herbs that people normally
consume to eliminate general feelings of malaise, of being out of sorts,
weakened, or hyper, strung out, anxious, and so forth. The
historically-validated tonic will usually be applied in the absence of a
specific diagnosis. Users have typically developed a confidence in the ability
of the herb to eliminate ill health from a wide variety of causes, exhibiting a
wide variety of symptoms. These herbs will be nontoxic, without side effects,
will be very easy to use, appropriate for prolonged use, and will almost always
be classified among the favorite herbs of the culture in which they are found.
Tonic herbs are typically the most revered herbs of the world.
The second way an herb is determined to be tonic is through basic laboratory
and clinical research in which the tonic, bi-directional properties are clearly
established. In the latter case, the safety of the herb must also be determined.
The goal of research is to established centuries of data m a relatively short
time. Obviously, only a few plants have achieved tonic status through this
means. Among them are pygeum, ginkgo, and milk thistle seed.
©1995, Victory Publications 8305 788599941026
Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D. earned his
advanced degree in experimental psychology from Brigham Young
University. His specialized areas was psychopharmacology, with
related studies in biochemistry, neurology, anatomy and physiology.
His interest in medicinal botany began while in graduate school and
his dissertation reflected that interest. Over the next several
years his research in this area lead to the publications of several
books, among which are: Herbal Tonic Therapies, The Scientific
Validation of Herbal Medicine, Guaranteed Potency Herbs: Next
Generation Herbal Medicine, and Fat Management: The Therogenic