Total Body Wellness Through Tonic
The New Revolution in Herbal Medicine
by Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D.
Wellness: The Tonic Gift to Man
I have used the word 'wellness' on purpose. The tonic concept does emphasize
staying well more than it does getting cured. Someone has coined a phrase,
"Wellness is better than a cure." I think that is true. The main
function of a tonic is to maintain balance, or in other words, maintain
wellness. However, tonics are also used to restore balance or wellness, implying
therefore that they can be used when a person is out of balance or ill. Both
applications are valid. But the emphasis is always on restoring and maintaining
balance, not on fighting or curing disease. This subtle distinction appeals to
me in several ways. Mainly, I think it reflects a healthier approach to life in
general. Physically and psychologically, it is healthier to consume herbs as a
part of staying well, feeling good and enjoying the vital aspects of life as
opposed to viewing herbs just as treatments for disease.
To Every Herb There is a Time
There are times when your body will be overpowered by stress injury or some
agent of disease, times when it will need an acute, quick boost that tonic herbs
may not provide. On such occasions, the use of some form of non-tonic herb is
indicated. Even an extract of a tonic herb can be used. An echinacea extract for
example, is much more powerful than whole echinacea herb. Unless very carefully
prepared, the extract has lost its tonic properties, but will act as a very
powerful immunostimulant. Thus, if I get a sore throat, I use echinacea extract
to effect an immediate reversal of that condition. Then I go back to the whole
herb (along with other immunotonics) for the routine maintenance of my immune
system. This brings up a rule of thumb: Herbal tonics can be used on a daily
basis; non-tonic herbs, and non-tonic extracts of tonic herbs should be used
intermittently, only when needed. Another example of a tonic herb that is
non-tonic in its extracted form is licorice root. This herb may be the single
most beneficial herb in the world, and may be used daily by almost everyone.
Yet, when extracted, it may lose its tonic action, and may become inappropriate
for prolonged daily consumption.
Stability: The Legacy of Tonics, Or, How
to Make Tonics a Part of Your Life
Although it wouldn't hurt to support each and every body system with herbal
tonics each and every day, such a prescription is not practical and it is not
necessary. So here is another astounding thing about herbal tonics: Once a body
system is brought into balance, usually accomplished in a few weeks, it will
generally have enough strength and vitality to stay there for several months.
The Europeans take advantage of this concept. Every summer many Europeans take
an extended vacation at a spa where they go through procedures to restore health
and vitality to their bodies, which then sustains them through the next 12
months or until time for another vacation at the spa. After decades of
approaching wellness in this manner, it is amazing how accurate the system has
become. In some ways, consuming herbal tonics is like that. You can take one
tonic for a month or two and then switch to another for a month or two, and so
forth, rotating through the entire group every nine months to a year. Consuming
one or two bottles of a good tonic combination is better than trying to restore
balance with a dozen bottles of non-tonic herbs.
However, long term use of herbal tonics may be necessary if you are
susceptible to weaknesses in particular body systems. For example, if there is a
history of cardiovascular disease in your family, or if there is a tendency
among your family members to experience substantial deviations from normal
cholesterol or blood lipid values, to have angina, or any other manifestation of
an imbalance in cardiovascular function, it would be wise to begin now consuming
a couple of capsules of the cardiovascular tonic and to maintain that for months
or years, or even the rest of your life, as just a routine part of your diet.
Here's another common example: The majority of men over the age of 40 will
experience some problem with their prostate gland. Consumption of the male tonic
combination may eliminate this risk plus keep the libido in good shape. Most
people will find that there are one or two tonics they want to use all the time,
and others they will want to rotate through over a six to 12-month period.
Almost all baby boomers are attracted to the brain combination for its effect on
memory, ability to concentrate, and so forth, but see the need to consume one or
two bottles a year of each of the other tonics. Many women feel the need for the
female tonic at least two weeks out of every month, and will use it daily
throughout a pregnancy. Combining the female tonic with the nervous system tonic
is a favorite choice of many women employed outside of the home. The
musculoskeletal tonic finds daily application by people with various forms of
inflammatory joint disease who are constantly fighting to maintain balance in
joint fluid levels, yet will be used intermittently by athletes and others who
experience occasional injuries. So you see there are numerous ways the tonics
can be consumed. The beauty of it is that you don't have to worry about
combining herbs in a harmful or otherwise wrong manner. All of these herbs work
together, and although they are grouped according to body systems, many of them
impact on several systems, and the variety of beneficial synergy is truly
The Tonic Laxative!
Tonics may even be used for conditions that would, at first glance appear to
be inappropriate for a tonic. For example, it is possible to construct an herbal
laxative. Granted, laxative function is perhaps the most severe test of a tonic.
You would think that the need for a laxative is a situation where non-tonic
herbs are called for. Yet, I have found that it is possible to create a tonic
laxative combination if great care is given to the components and their relative
concentrations. To understand how this is possible, you need to realize that
chronic laxative abuse generally leads to the loss of tone in the large bowel.
Most laxatives reinforce this loss of tone through the inclusion of components
astringent in nature. The laxative tonic, on the other hand, avoids
astringency and includes components that help restore tone to the large bowel.
We have shown in numerous cases where longstanding laxative habits have been
completely reversed by administration of the laxative tonic.
In conclusion, this article and my book on the subject are efforts to accord
tonics the special status they deserve and to encourage everyone to begin using
them in the manner appropriate to their potential. True herbal tonics will do
more for your health than any other group of herbs. In many cases the use of
tonics will almost completely eliminate the need for stronger, uni-directional
herbal remedies, or will at the very least reduce our dependence on them to a
bare minimum. Incidentally, the routine use of herbal tonics should make the
occasional use of non-tonic herbs even more effective. Learn the tonic herbs.
Seek out combinations uncontaminated with unidirectional substances. Enjoy
health, vitality, balance. And remember, not all herbs are created equal.
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