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A Third Arm for the First World?

James A. Duke

For more than 15 years, now, I have appealed for clinical comparisons of the herbal alternatives, culinary, edible, and medicinal plants that clearly have medicinal virtues. In a talk I gave to some 100 congressional aides and friends, June 17, 2004, on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, I urged that congress mandate a third arm in any new clinical trials. The mandate would require that any new clinical trials of pharmaceuticals include not only placebo and pharmaceutical but one of the more promising herbal alternatives. I sent them a longer list of the more promising herbal alternatives. The following compilation lists only some of the medicinal species mentioned in the Bible. Clinical herbalists could improve this list. So could interested holistic allopathic physicians. More importantly, they could also help convince congress that pharmaceuticals kill 1,000-fold more Americans than do the safer herbs. The third arm trials, like recent trials with Saint Johníswort and saw palmetto, will often show that the herb is as effective as the pharmaceutical with fewer side effects. Such third arm clinical trials could provide cheaper and sounder advice for those 15-25% of Americans who can no longer afford the pharmaceuticals a/o the doctor to prescribe them. It will not be easy to achieve this goal, but itís worth the effort. Only unbiassed clinical comparisons can show if the herbal alternatives are as good as the pharmaceuticals or nearly so.

Pharmaceuticals rank with the top killers, like cancer and cardiopathy, in the US. Herbs are orders of magnitude safer.

I suspect that many, if not all clinical herbalists already believe the tenet of this paper: herbs are more liable to help a given individual (none of whom are average) than a pharmaceutical, especially IF.

1. The diagnosis is incorrect (often happens)

2. The patient is deficient in one or more nutrients (almost all of us are)

3. The patient has only six minutes to ask his/her physician if Drug A.B,C.D,E, F or G is right for him or her.

4. The patient has more than one thing wrong (very often the case).

Biblical Herbs as Alternatives to Pharmaceuticals ???


No one really knows whether these are as good (or as bad) as the pharmaceuticals until they have been clinically compared. The herbal alternatives need to be clinically compared, especially since nearly 25% of North Americans cannot afford the pharmaceutical prescription and/or the doctor to prescribe them. I recommend we support an amendment to mandate a third arm in future clinical trials comparing pharmaceuticals and placebos. That way, we are better equipped to know whether Americans are, in fact, getting "the best medicines in the world", as we are so often told. With pharmaceuticals killing more than 100,000 Americans a year, I doubt that we are getting the best, cheapest and safest medicines. Recent comparisons have shown that garlic, saw palmetto and st johnswort, to name a few promising herbal alternatives, are clearly competitive with pharmaceuticals. Could that be why these herbs are getting so much negative press? The following list includes a few alternatives worth considering, but only includes species that are mentioned in the Bible.

Almonds vs Cardiopathic Drugs for Cardiopathy

Almug (Pterocarpus santalinus) vs Vioxx for Colon Cancer

Aloe vs Benzocaine or Lidocaine + Bactine for Burns

Apricot Pits vs Laetrile for Cancer

Balm of Gilead vs Benzaepil (Lotensin) for Hypertension ( aqueous extract of Commiphora opobalsamum (4 mg/kg iv) depressed systemic arterial blood pressure by 20% (P < 0.01) and reduced heart rate of anaesthetised rats by 14% ) (X9292417)

Biblical Mint vs Cognex for Alzheimer's Disease (AD) (See papers by N. Perry on other mint species)

Biblical Rose (Narcissus) vs Galanthamine for Alzheimerís

Biblical Wormwood vs Antimony for Leishmaniasis ess. oil at 2 ug/ml; aqueous extract at 4 ug/ml (X11346978);

Black cumin vs Claritin for Hay Fever (X14669258)

Black cuminís thymoquinone vs Pharm.Antiseptics for Sepsis (Lai and Roy, 2004)

Black cuminís thymoquinone for Cancer (Lai and Roy, 2004)

Bramble vs Aspirin for Pain (X 14522443)

Brier (Solanum incanum) vs "Curaderm" (solasodine + salicylic acid) for Skin Cancer

Butcherís Broom vs Preparation H for Hemorrhoids

Capers vs Tolbutamid for Diabetes ( aqueous extracts have potent anti-hyperglycemic activity in rats; without affecting basal plasma insulin concentrations. X15261975)

Carob vs Imodium (Loperimide) for Diarrhea

Cassia (Saussurea) vs Antibiotics for Tuberculosis (JNP61:1181)

Chickpea (a/o lentil) vs HRT for Prevention of Cardiopathy and Osteoporosis

Chicory(Prebiotic) and Lactobacillus (Probiotic) vs Cipro for Bladder Infections

Cinnamon vs Tolbutamid (Orinase) for Diabetes

Coriander vs Chelation for Lead and Mercury Overdose (Ess. Oil comparable to sorbic acid at preventing the slimy spoilage of Vienna sausage. (Nakatani, 1994)

Cottonís gossypol vs. Unknown Pharms as Reversible Male Contraceptive

Cumin vs Glibenclamide for Diabetes mellitus (X12220968) ( antimelanomic farnesol and perillaldehyde; anticancer beta-elemene, eugenol, limonene, alpha-pinene, and linalool)

Dandelion vs Interferon for Hepatitis

Date vs Amphotericin B for Candidiasis (Tackholm and Drar (1973) report that pollen of a male date palm mixed with water is a charm against childlessness. Pollen contains estrone, like pomegranate fruits)

Dill vs Simethicone for Gas

Faba Beans vs Pharm LevaDopa for Parkinsonís

Faba Bean, Grape , Garlic, Lentils (Chickpea), Olive Oil, Onion (Biblical Diet) for Cardiopathy,

Fenugreek vs. Silicone for Micromastia

Fenugreek vs Zocor for High Cholesterol

3Fenugreek:1 Fennel (Hildegardís suggestion for cancer of the penis) followed by beer barley cakes (Substitute dill with anethole for the fennel)

Fig (and Benzaldehyde) vs Laetrile for Cancer (Kings ii)

Flax vs Etoposide for Cancer

Flaxseed vs. Fluoxetine (Prozac) or Sertraline (Zoloft) for Depression (for vegetarians)

Frankincense vs Celebrex for Arthritis (In the Bible, Frankincense is mentioned 16 times for worship, 3 times in Solomon's garden, twice as a tribute of honor, and only once as merchandise.

Garlic vs Chemo for Cancer

Garlic vs Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) for Bladder Infection (if not Anthrax)

Garlic vs Zocor for High Cholesterol (and Alzheimerís via antiamyloid activity (X 15277073)

Grapeseed vs Pharms for cardiopathy, diabetes, enteroparasites, fibromyalgia, gout, parkinsons (See White et al; Herbal Drug Store)

Henna vs Benadryl for Poison Ivy

Ivyleaf Extract (Prospan) vs Robitussin for Bronchitis (X12725580) (X12006725:

Juniper vs Etoposide for Cancer

Laurel vs Sumatriptan for Migraine

Lentils vs Zocor for High Cholesterol

Lettuce(seed oil) vs Diazepam (Valium) for Insomnia (FT67:215)

Madonna Lily vs Nystatin for Candidiasis (Bulb extract more active than flower extract;e isolated compounds were inactive. X12501491)

Mallows vs Robitussin for Bronchitis (2 in CR2)

Mandrake (dangerous) vs Transdermal Scopolamine for Vertigo:

Milkthistle vs Interferon for Hepatosis

Mustard (better horseradish, but not mentioned per se in the Bible) vs Dristan for Sinusitis

Myrrh vs Synthroid for Hypothyroidism

Myrtle Oil vs Glibenclamide for Diabetes mellitus (X15234770)

Nettle vs Claritin for Hay Fever

Nettle vs Celebrex for Arthralgia (British clinical studies show improvement)

Olive Oil vs Zocor for High Cholesterol

Onion vs Pharms for Diabetes

Pomegranate vs HRT for Syndome X (Clinical trials for the latter; Herb Clip43832)

Poppy vs Percoset for Pain

Rocket (Oroth of Kings 2) vs Lorenzoís Oil for Adrenoleukodystrophy

Rue (Homeopathic) vs Pharms for Neurocysticercosis (X11317525)

Russian olive vs Pharms for Prostate Cancer Prevention

Saffron vs Pharms for Cancer Prevention (Lai and Roy, 2004; X15239370)

Spikenard vs Ritalin for Hyperkiness (Attention Deficit Disorder (MPI)

Sweetcane (Pure sugar) vs Honey a/oPropolis for Topical Infections

Tares (dangerous ergotized grass) vs Ergotamine (Ergostat) for Headache

Thorn (Ziziphus) vs Imodium for Diarrhea (X 11167035; X 12826300)

Turmeric vs Celebrex for Arthritis and Colon Cancer Prevention

Turmeric vs Pharms for Cancer Prevention (Lai and Roy, 2004)

Walnut Oil vs Fish Oil (and Suicidogenic Antidepressants Pharms) for Mania

Walnut Oil vs Zocor for High Cholesterol (X12934760)

Watercress vs Celebrex for Colon Cancer

Watermelonís Lycopene vs Pharms for Prostate Cancer Prevention

Willow vs Aspirin for Backache (X12017748)

The species listed above have been with us at least 2 millennia as all are mentioned in the Bible. I believe that man evolved in Africa and then radiated out from Africa, close to the Holy Land "Bridge," the evolutionary Exodus preceding the Biblical Exodus. Evolving emerging mankind would have encountered most of the climatically adapted herbs mentioned in the Bible during the evolutionary a/o Biblical Exodus , thru the Middle Eastern fertile crescent into Europe and Asia, and finally Australia, Polynesia and America. For these reasons my genes have probably been familiar longer with Afican cowpea, then Biblical chick pea, faba bean, and lentil; then Oriental mungbean and soybean; and finally American anasazi, kidney, lima, navy, and string beans. Thus my genes have known genistein (which occurs in all the beans listed above) more than 2,000,000 years. The listed Biblical herbs each contain hundreds of biologically active phytochemicals with which my genes have coevolved, for 2000 if not 2 million years. Synthetic Pharmaceuticals have been known to my genes less than 200 years. Thus my genes have had 1-2 orders of magnitude more time to adapt to the phytochemicals. If my genes traversed thru the Holy Land, they will have long known many of the phytochemicals in most of the Holy Land foods and medicines. In evolutionary time, my genes have probably developed homeostatic relations with many of the biologically active compounds that make the plant medicinal. This is why I advocate the "Feed a Fever; Feed a Cold" approach. The medicinal foods present a menu of biologically active phytochemicals from which your body homeostatically mines those it needs, excluding those familiar phytochemicals it does not need. Thus your body, under the direction of your genes, has developed mechanisms for dealing with the usual phytochemicals, while the genes and hence the body are at first naive to new synthetic pharmaceuticals. For that reason, one can expect more dramatic effects and side effects from new pharmaceuticals, the most heavily advertised. My body knows better (than my naturopath, my nutritionist, my herbalist, my chiropracter, my aromatherapist, my nurse practitioner, my physiciansís assistant, my reflexologist, my shaman, my physician, my computer programmer, and even my preacher ) which phytochemicals my body needs. Given a soup and salad and herbal tea containing these chemcials, my body mines them for the needed nutrients. Congress , if charged with protecting American health and the health care system, should know which natural food "farmaceuticals" are as efficacious as the more dangerous synthetics. No one can know until they are clinically compared. Thatís why I urge congress to mandate the third arm, comparing the safer herbs with the more dangerous pharmaceuticals, which latter kill more than 100,000 Americans a year. In those few comparisons so far, the medicinal herbs and food plants have come out looking surprisingly (to some, not me) promising. If congress wonít insist on clinical investigations and comparisons, maybe some religious hospital should get involved in comparing the Biblical herbs with the pharmaceuticals.

Or better yet, letís invite Bill Gates to really help the Africans (and Americans) by analyzing some 1000 of the more promising medicinal plants and 1000 of the more promising phytochemicals and analyzing the data in a genomic fashion. Such an analysis, coupled with the results of clinical comparisons, could better advise us which herbs were best for which people for which maladies. Then perhaps Americans and Africans will be getting better medicine than they get today.

Duke, J. A. 1983. Medicinal Plants of the Bible. 233 pp. Trado-Medic Books, Buffalo, NY. Treats over 100 Biblical species, with illustrations mostly by Peggy K. Duke. Apparently out of print.

Duke, J. A. 1997. The Green Pharmacy. Rodale Press, Emaus PA 18098-0099. 507 pp. ISBN 0-87596-316--1(hardcover)ISBN-57954-124-0 (paperback)

Duke, J. A. 1999. Dr. Dukeís Essential Herbs (13 Vital Herbs You Need to Disease-proof your Body - Boost your energy - Lengthen your Life). Rodale Press. Emmaus PA 18098. 240 pp. $24.95 ISBN- 1-57954-183-6 (Hard Cover)

Duke, J.A. 1999. Herbs of the Bible- 2000 Years of Plant Medicine. Interweave Press, Loveland CO. 241 pp.. $34.95. ISBN 1-883010-66-7

Duke, J. A. 2000. The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. Rodale Press. 282 pp. $19.95 ISBN- 1-57954-184-4

Duke, J. A. 2001. with Michael Castleman. The Green Pharmacy Anti-aging Prescriptions - Herbs, Foods, and Natural Formulas to Keep you Young. Rodale Press, 560 pages. Emaus, Pa. $29.95. ISBN 1-57954-198-4(Hardcover)

Duke, JA, Bogenschutz-Godwin, MJ, DuCellier, J and Duke, PA. 2002. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Plants. 2nd. Ed. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 936 pp

Duke, JA, Bogenschutz-Godwin, MJ, DuCellier, J and Duke, PA. 2002. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Spices. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 348 pp. $119.95. ISBN-0-8493-1279-5


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