One of my suspicions, shared by others in the natural-health field, is that herbal medicines are not as effective today as they were centuries ago. In historical accounts, it was fairly common to read that a particular herb or herbal combination was widely considered as an effective therapy for a condition that now would be difficult to treat only with herbs. I have spent a fair amount of effort trying to understand this potential loss of effectiveness of herbs in our time.
What I discovered is that, although this is a complex topic, three central areas need to be addressed. The first is that in former times, particularly, in certain cultures, it was fairly common for people to regularly consume herbs and spices in amounts that would be unheard of today. One example is a report I read years ago saying that the typical rural person in India consumed between 2 and 6 tablespoons of turmeric a day, always mixed with ghee and black pepper. Now, even using turmeric as a supplement, it would be rare for a person to consume even one tablespoon a day.
Another example comes from a book on traditional cuisine from Italy. The author described salads as consisting of handfuls of several herbs, including oregano, thyme, rosemary, dandelion greens, etc. This is a far cry from an occasional salad of iceberg lettuce and a hothouse tomato.
The second reason for the superior effectiveness of herbs in former times is that herbs need to be metabolized in the gut into their active ingredients. These active secondary metabolites are the therapeutic ingredients that affect our health. In a time when so many are exposed to antibiotics, glyphosate and other influences that degrade our gut flora, it is understandable that without a gut-restoration effort, we will be unable to use herbs effectively.
The third reason is that the quality of the herbs, including where they are grown, how they are grown and which species is grown, has also dramatically changed over the years. There are many different species of Echinacea, but it’s likely that only echinacea purpurea or augustifolia contain enough primary substances to positively affect our health.
It is primarily for this third reason that I am so happy to introduce our new Curry Powder blend. This product is the result of the cooperation of our company with an herb and spice company that has a similar commitment to quality as we have. They source single herbs and spices from farms that reflect the best place in the world to grow whatever the herb or spice, and they personally visit each farm to ensure its high-quality practices. As an example, in our Curry Powder, the coriander is sourced from a single, organic farm in Turkey that has grown the more medicinal type of coriander for centuries. The cumin in this blend is from the Hindi Kush region of Northern Afghanistan, a climate that helps the cumin plant concentrate the valuable phytochemicals and oils that make cumin a valuable spice.
The turmeric in the powder was grown organically on a farm in Karnataka, India, where it was cultivated and processed using the principles of Ayurveda. It was hand-harvested, cleaned, sun-dried and ground fresh, and its high curcumin content — 4 percent — makes it ideal for both medicinal and culinary uses
These three ingredients are combined with ashitaba stems from our farmer in Northern California, and onions and peppers from two small, organic farms in West Virginia.
This is an exciting partnership for us, allowing us to expand our offerings without sacrificing quality.
Please enjoy the Curry Powder liberally. We like to melt butter or ghee in a pan, then dissolve a few tablespoons of the powder in the ghee, followed by chopped onions, a can of coconut milk, then chopped vegetables with a little beef or chicken. Simmer till meat and vegetables are cooked through and season to taste. You are in for a true taste and health revelation.
Tom Cowan, M.D.
During this time of relative uncertainty, we have decided to renew our commitment to gardening. Dr. Cowan’s Garden was originally a place, located in Napa Valley on a plot of land generously donated by a friend. It embodied our ideals and was a sanctuary for growth and learning.
The garden was our muse for new product offerings and for improving existing ones. The garden kept our ambitions grounded to certain fundamentals, as the practice of gardening can be challenging.