Nutritional Value of Herbs and Infusions
Nutritional Value of Herbs and Infusions

Vitamins and minerals coexist in foods and herbs with hundred of other constituents that cause them to be much more effective than any vitamin or mineral in a pill

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Dear Susun,


I hope you can help me understand more about the nutritional value of herbs and herbal infusions. I've always assumed that I needed to take supplements in order to insure that I was getting adequate nutrients. But I just read that a major study found that taking calcium supplements doesn't reduce the risk of breaking a bone. Can herbs really help?


Kristine in Ontario


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Dear Kristine,


Vitamins and minerals coexist in foods and herbs with hundred of other constituents that cause them to be much more effective than any vitamin or mineral in a pill. Health has never come in a pill, and I doubt that it ever will.


Vitamins are groups of closely-related enzymes (proteins) that work together synergistically. Vitamin A includes over 1800 carotenes and carotinoides, vitamin B has about twenty different factors including niacin, folate, riboflavin, and laetrile, vitamin C includes more than one hundred substances in addition to ascorbic acid, vitamin D is found in at least three forms, and vitamin E contains eight different factors. Vitamins in pills are simplified versions of complex substances, so they can't promote health, although they can counter true deficiencies. Vitamin supplements, unlike the vitamins in foods and herbs, can cause harm. Supplementation with vitamin A has been found to increase a woman's risk of hip fracture. Supplementation with vitamin E can make breast cancer more lethal.


Minerals may seem simpler than vitamins, but they aren't. Elemental minerals cannot be used by living things; cells require the salt, or ionic, forms of minerals. There are hundreds of ionic forms of each mineral in foods and herbs but only one in a supplement. Once again, loss of complexity leads to less health, not more.


Nourishing herbal infusions -- made from non-poisonous herbs such as nettle, red clover, oatstraw, linden, and comfrey leaf -- provide complete vitamins and lots of mineral complexes along with synergistic activating compounds. You can't go by the numbers. I've maintained for decades that the nutrients in herbs and whole foods are at least ten times more active than those in supplements. A chemist recently challenged me on this. According to his research, the nutrients in foods and herbs are a thousand times more active than those in pills. One molecule of vitamin E in a pill can only absorb one free radical. A molecule of vitamin E in a cup of nettle infusion can absorb a thousand free radicals. If an herb has 100 mg of measurable calcium, it will actually have the effect of at least 1000 mg of calcium. Numbers don't tell the whole tale.


I don't take pills. I do drink 2-4 cups of nourishing herbal infusion daily; and include plenty of seaweed, yogurt, miso, cooked greens, whole grains, olive oil, and lacto-fermented vegetables (also known as sauerkraut) in my diet. My students report noticeable improvement in their health, skin, and hair after drinking nourishing infusions for as little as ten days. Over longer periods of time bone mass improves, immunity grows stronger, digestion becomes problem-free, and energy soars. (For instructions on making nourishing infusions, please visit my website or refer to any one of my books.)


Green blessings. Susun