Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)

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There are 13 species of shooting star in North America, two of which can be found in Wisconsin. The most widespread and common species is Dodecatheon meadia.

A spring-blooming perennial native to eastern and central North America, D. meadia can be found gracing meadows and woodlands with its showy nodding flower heads throughout the month of May. Its pink or white fragrant blooms rise on stalks a foot or more above the foliage. A springtime ephemeral, it flowers, seeds, and goes dormant by midsummer.

Shooting star is a much loved Wisconsin native, but it has no known medicinal uses, and though it is not toxic, it is not considered edible. Enjoy this one simply for its unusual beauty!

D. meadia can be confused with the other Wisconsin shooting star species, D. amethystinum (jeweled shooting star), which has darker blooms and lacks the reddish tinge which is present at the base of the foliage in D. meadia.

 

Other Dodecatheon species
Dodecatheon spp. range maps

Synonyms for D. meadia: Eastern shooting star, midland shooting star

Part Two: The Case for Natural Medicine

Click Here for Part One: The Story of the Disclaimer

Can a non-patented, non-profitable natural substance or therapy be employed in a medical system which legally requires a profit? Do you understand why the medical establishment is based largely on the use of surgery and pharmaceuticals?

As you may have noticed, Big Pharma is regularly coming up with new ‘diseases’ and ‘disorders’. Things which were not previously considered a disease (ever heard of orthorexia norosa?) are being labeled as such. This effectively corners the market and opens up opportunity for pharmaceutical treatment. Once something is classified as a disease, only a licensed drug can legally be marketed as a treatment.

Although modern medicine showed up about 250 years ago, everything that came before it is now considered ‘alternative medicine’. The United States is at the forefront of this ‘conventional medicine’, and yet heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are reaching epidemic proportions.

The medical establishment claims to consider the alternative health movement as a threat to public health and safety. Steps have been taken through the years to discredit natural treatments as ineffective and unsafe, to the extent that many people would not consider, and often are not even aware of, natural alternatives. This is despite the fact that around 70 percent of all new drugs introduced in the United States have been derived from natural substances. [1] Herbs and spices are often pharmacologically active, or else medicines could not be made from them; the problem is that when an active compound is artificially removed and isolated in order to create a new drug, it then exists in a form which may be more dangerous and less effective. A plant in its whole form interacts with the body in more and different ways than a drug with a single active ingredient might. But the FDA routinely removes natural products from the shelves, while allowing the pharmaceutical version to be marketed. An example would be the Chinese herb Ma Huang (ephedra sinica) and its pharmaceutical equivalents, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Both ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are available over the counter, while Ma Huang, in its whole form, cannot legally be sold in the United States. What makes this even more baffling is that Ma Huang can legally be sold, as long as ephedrine is removed from it first! [2]

To say that natural treatments are unsafe and prescription drugs are safe seems a bit of a stretch when you consider that over 100,000 people die every year simply as a result of side effects of these prescription drugs. [3] That is one every 5 minutes! And this number does not take into account death from medical mistakes or overdoses. Statistically, you are more likely to die from correct use of a doctor-prescribed drug than in a car accident. But according to the annual report published last year by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were no deaths reported for miscellaneous dietary supplements, herbals, or homeopathic medicine. Zero. [4]

In case this all sounds like a conspiracy theory…

In 1987, the federal courts found the American Medical Association and several other medical groups guilty of “seeking to create a healthcare monopoly”, [5] including “systematic defamation of naturopathic, chiropractic, and osteopathic physicians”, and “publishing and distribution of propaganda specifically intended to ruin other healthcare professionals’ reputations”, among other things. And in 2006, the AMA publicly stated on its website the intention to oppose the licensure and practice of naturopaths. That statement was quickly retracted and removed. [5] What is interesting about their opposition is that it has little to do with qualifications; a licensed naturopathic doctor must not only graduate medical school, but must take extra classes on top of it in order to obtain their license.

There is so much corruption in the healthcare industry it makes me sick. Unfortunately, it makes a lot of other people not just sick, but dead. According to a review of statistical evidence, the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in this country! [3]

This is not to say that no one has ever died from alternative health treatments. On the contrary, I can recall at least a few news reports on specific deaths over the years. It seems every time someone dies using alternative medicine, it is newsworthy. Why is it, then, that we do not hear about the hundreds of people who die every day from drug side effects? I suppose I can understand. It would be impractical, to say the least, to do a new report every five minutes on the dangers of prescription drugs. Besides, their hands are tied. (We can hardly expect unbiased information from the news stations, since six corporations control 90 percent of American media.) [6]

Am I getting off topic here?

My stance is not against all conventional medicine so much as it is for a holistic (and common sense) approach. A doctor might save your life someday, and that’s fine. That’s great! If you get in a car accident, a flower growing on the side of the road is not going to stitch you back together. That’s what hospitals are for.

But accidents aside, no matter what direction your pursuit of health takes you, the important thing is to make an informed decision. Regardless of any law that says otherwise, drugs do not treat illnesses; they treat symptoms. And in a country where doctors are compensated for prescribing those drugs, [7] it may not be safe to assume that medical doctors have an unbiased view on what is best for you.

cited sources:
1. Mongabay 2. Ma Huang’s Legal Status and FDA Policy 3. Death by Medicine 4. NPDS annual report (table 22B, page 1248) 5. Lawsuit against AMA 6. Business Insider 7. Is Your Doctor Getting Drug Kickbacks?

The Story of the Disclaimer

If you regularly buy natural supplements for health, you may have noticed this disclaimer somewhere on the label:

“This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

Before I understood who the FDA is, and the reason for the disclaimer, I remember frowning at such a label. I thought it was like the fine print under sweepstakes ads. “Sign up and win $1000! (By the way, you only have 1 in a billion chance of winning 😉 )”

However, as experience trumps suspicion (the supplements worked), the disclaimer became little more than a curiosity to me. When I eventually learned the story behind the disclaimer, I was appalled. An administration created to work for our interests, and meant to protect us, working for their own interests instead? Of course this was years ago, and these sorts of things no longer surprise me. There is too much information to include it here, but if you wish to look into it further, I will leave you this quote as a starting point:

“The thing that bugs me is that the people think the FDA is protecting them. It isn’t. What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks it’s doing are as different as night and day.”
—Dr Herbert L. Ley, former Commissioner of the FDA.

And now, the story behind the disclaimer.

The FDA’s definition of a drug is “a substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.” They further state that “only a drug can treat, cure, or prevent disease.” This means that any product, natural or otherwise, cannot legally make such a claim unless it has been officially approved for such use by the FDA. Pretty reasonable, right? Hang on a second.

A conservative estimate for the cost of bringing a new drug to market is between 50-185 million dollars. [1] A report by the CSDD and published in the Scientific American states that the cost of bringing a new drug to market has more than doubled in the last ten years, and that it now exceeds 2.5 billion dollars! [2]

Did you know that investors have a legal obligation to their shareholders to turn a profit? Because natural substances cannot be patented, [3] to license such a product could never produce a return of investment, even if it were legal.

Since “only a drug can treat, cure, or prevent disease”, nothing except a drug can legally make that claim. It follows, then, that since a natural substance can be neither patented nor approved by the FDA and licensed as a drug, that a manufacturer of such a product must include the above disclaimer to avoid legal persecution.

Part Two: The Case for Natural Medicine

cited sources:
1. Doctors Without Borders 2. Scientific American 3. Patent Laws

Hello World!

I’m no good at introductions so I will just dive right in. I grew up in small town Wisconsin, the middle child of six. The better part of my childhood was spent outside- rain or shine (or winter snowstorm). Somehow, despite difficulties I can only now imagine, my parents managed to take all six of us camping and canoeing every summer. I developed an appreciation for all things nature which eventually translated into a passion for natural medicine.

When I was young, I used Echinacea to shorten and prevent illnesses. As an adult, my quest to solve the puzzle of my health issues led me to a welcome discovery- my body responds more readily to natural treatments.

These days I am no longer sick but my passion for natural healing has flourished. My newest area of interest is in the plants growing around me, both native and invasive. This area, ripe with Native American history, is an excellent backdrop for such passions.  It is an endless journey of discovery and I look forward to sharing it in my blog.