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At Mountain Mist Botanicals we want to provide you with the most effective as well as the most cost effective herbal formulas.

Powders offer several benefits over liquids . . . they are more stable than liquids.

About James Sloane, our herbal formulator:

James’ approach to health challenges is dramatically different from most formulators – he takes into account the chemistry, anatomy and physiological factors, he formulates his line to address these factors and to produce a desired result. This is done by taking all the information of the disorder into consideration and then making a list of potential herbs and supplements.

Interaction and safety factors are then considered in combination with the priority symptoms all the way down to the minor side effects of the disorder being addressed. Based on all of this information, the herbs and supplements are chosen and the amount is determined according to need and safety. The process takes time, is difficult, and encompasses painstaking research and more research. But the end result has proven successful time and time again as is seen by his long list of grateful clients.

James started in conventional medicine at the age of 14 and spent 13 years working in that field. However, he became disillusioned by the fact that conventional medicine generally treats the symptoms rather than the cause keeping the person ill but comfortable for greater profitability. This began his journey into the study of alternative modalities.

James’ ultimate goal is to have a positive impact on people’s lives.

However you may have found this site, we hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to make a difference in your life.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Are liquids or powders better?
Why do you recommend formulations over individual herbs in most cases?
Are herbal powders more stable than whole or cut herbs?
What about herbal teas?
What about rate of absorption?
Can the medications I take interact with the herbs?
Have herbs been studied?
Have herbs been researched thoroughly as pharmaceutical drugs are supposed to be?

Why do we recommend taking the herbs on an empty stomach?
What about shelf life?
Do we use organic herbs?
How long do the formulas last?

Are liquids or powders better?

Powders offer several benefits over liquids. All liquids require some form of a preservative to prevent bacteria and mold development. Tinctures generally use alcohol, which may not be suitable for some people such as alcoholics, small children, or those with allergies to the alcohol. Other liquids, such as liquid vitamins, commonly use potentially toxic substances, such as sorbates, which are used as preservatives for liquids.

Another major problem with liquid formulas is stability. Many beneficial substances, such as vitamins, alkaloids, and phytoestrogens are readily destroyed through oxidation; although oxidizers require water to perform oxidation. Therefore vitamins, alkaloids, and phytoestrogens are more stable in a dry environment, and rapidly degrade in the presence of water. Powders resolve the problem by remaining almost completely dry until they are to be taken, greatly reducing oxidative destruction of the nutrients and other beneficial compounds.

All herbs contain insoluble fiber’s that provide several benefits to the body including keeping the bowel clean and healthy, and feeding the beneficial intestinal flora. Though being insoluble, these fibers do not dissolve in water or alcohol, and therefore are lost when the herbs are tinctured or made into teas. Powdered herbs, on the other hand, still contain their insoluble fibers, unless they are in the form of powdered extracts.

Powdered herbs are more cost-effective than tinctures and other liquids. Tinctures in particular are costly due to the high cost of the alcohol used to make them, and the alcohol tax factored in. In addition, tinctures weigh more due to the liquid, and due to the glass bottles they are stored in. This increases shipping costs, which is passed on in the price the consumer pays. Other liquid products are sometimes stored in plastic containers, but the liquid weight still increases shipping costs and the price consumers will pay for the final product. Herbal powders are a fraction of the weight of liquids, and can be stored in glass or plastic. This keeps manufacturing costs down, giving the consumer a better value.

Why do you recommend formulations over individual herbs in most cases?

Diseases and disorders often have more than one cause. For instance cancer has a viral origin in the majority of cases – even many of the cases that are claimed to be hereditary. The majority of oncogenes found have been viral, not human. Other known causes of cancer include bacteria, fungi, parasites (very rare), excess hormones, immune suppression, radiation exposure, and exposure to various chemicals, including some medications. With so many potential causes, the best chance for success is through addressing as many potential causes as possible. In addition, to increase the chances of success, various attributes of cancer may be addressed. For example: reducing lactic acid levels in the blood, blocking the spread of cancer cells by inhibiting the enzyme hyaluronidase, aiding in oxygen utilization, cytokine production, white blood cell activation, etc. Individual herbs do have the ability to address multiple factors in a disease or disorder. The addition of other herbs allows the addressing of these factors to be expanded. Herbs may also be combined for a synergistic effect. For example, the medicinal actions of the herb pau d’ arco are enhanced by the sulfur compounds found in chaparral, or yerba mate’. In another example, the herb coleus forskohlii works by raising levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Though cAMP is quickly broken down by a liver enzyme. Taking yerba mate’ in conjunction with coleus forskohlii prolongs the life of cAMP in the body. Some herbs are used to nourish and strengthen organs and glands, which aids other herbs being used to treat disorders those organs and glands are associated with.

Are herbal powders more stable than whole or cut herbs?

In general it is believed that powdered herbs are more rapidly oxidized because the smaller particle size allows more surface area to be exposed to the air. Actually the opposite is true. The easiest way to understand this is with an example using fine sand, representing the powdered herbs, and marbles, representing the whole or cut herb. If we take both the sand and the marbles and place them in separate jars, which has more exposed surface area? As we can see, the marbles actually have more exposed surface area due to the air pockets trapped between the marbles. The finer sand compacts in more tightly excluding the air between its particles. Therefore during storage of herbs the powders will oxidize at a slower rate than whole or cut herbs since the powders compact more, excluding more air from the storage containers, and reducing exposed surface area.

What about herbal teas?

As with other liquids, teas do have their drawbacks. As I mentioned earlier, insoluble fibers are not extracted in liquids, therefore are lost when making teas. In addition, as mentioned earlier, oxidizers require moisture to oxidize substances, which may destroy the nutritional and medicinal benefits of the herbs. Heat speeds up the rate of oxidation. Therefore, the heat from the hot water used to make teas speed up the rate of oxidation, quickly destroying vitamins and some other beneficial substances found in the herbs.

What about rate of absorption?

Tinctures are absorbed more quickly than powders when taken orally. This is great if you need immediate action from that herb. For example if you are having an asthma attack, and you want to use an herb to stop the attack, then you need very rapid absorption of the herb, and a tincture would be your best choice. Such rapid absorption is rarely required, and the rate of absorption is not much greater than with powders. A tincture is not going to get rid of arthritis, or another disease, any faster than powders, and the additional cost of tinctures may not outweigh the benefits.

Can the medications I take interact with the herbs?

This is a tricky question since how many medications will interact with herbs is unknown. Though it is also unknown how medications will interact with many foods, as well as other medications. Medications have not been studied nearly as long, or as in depth as herbs. Mainstream medicine appears to know a lot about drug interaction on the surface. Although, if we look deeper we see that appearances can be deceiving. Pharmaceutical drugs are tested for interactions between two drugs. This would be great in an ideal world where people would have to take little or no medications. Instead, we live in a world where unneeded medications are often prescribed, and needed medications are often over prescribed. To make matters worse, these medications carry side effects that often require additional medications to correct. Of course these medications also have side effects create a revolving door effect. When a cocktail of these drugs are being taken there is no longer any way to tell what is interacting with what, and how. The elderly are at even a greater risk since they are more prone to having medication side effects, and are more likely to be taking various medications for the same, or different, ailments. To further complicate problems, not all interactions are between medications. Many foods can interact with medications as well. For example, foods that may interfere with Coumadin, and other blood thinners, include vanilla, cayenne, parsley, ginger, and green leafy vegetables. Grapefruit may interfere with the metabolism of various medications. Parsley, oranges, and bananas must be consumed sparingly in people taking potassium sparing diuretics. Milk may interfere with some antibiotics.

As with other medications, and some foods, medications may also interact with some herbs. For example, herbs containing coumarins, or aspirin related compounds, or containing large amounts of vitamin K may interfere with the drug Coumadin. Herbs high in tannins may precipitate medications in the same manner as they precipitate active constituents in herbs. And St. Johnswort may have the ability to slightly interfere with the metabolism of medications through the liver. Many of these effects are dose dependent. Since non standardized herbs are used in small amounts, with low levels of active constituents, the risk of these problems is greatly reduced compared to the problem associated with pharmaceutical drugs. If you are taking medications, it is recommended that you check herb-drug interaction books, or consult with a pharmacist, physician, or an herbalist knowledgeable in medications and herbs to check for potential interactions.

Have herbs been studied?

Most of our knowledge of herbs stem from thousands of years of use by humans. Some people will claim that this does not count because they were not clinical or double blind studies. Actually this is a pretty poor excuse. Clinical studies and double blind studies have been performed on all FDA approved drugs, yet many of these drugs are now getting pulled from the market because these studies, including safety studies, did not reveal dangerous or deadly side effects of the drugs. And I see drugs all of the time for which the mechanism of action is unknown despite the studies. Premarin (pregnant mares urine) was on the market for decades before they finally admitted that this drug increases the risk of blood clots; which can cause heart attack and stroke, and various cancers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, Vioxx, and Celebrex have been on the market for decades as well. Until recently they never mentioned the increased risk of heart attack and stroke for these drugs. This problem should have been known prior to their approval since the answer as to why NSAIDs do this is in their mechanism of action. Inflammatory prostaglandins dilate blood vessels to increase blood flow to injured areas to aid in healing. Though when blood vessels are dilated like this they become permeable, and leak fluids in to the surrounding tissues, leading to pain and inflammation. NSAIDs work by constricting blood vessels to prevent them from leaking fluid through their walls, which reduces the swelling and pain. Reducing blood flow to the heart and brain increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. So is this a new discovery? I doubt it. Ibuprofen, for example, killed two dozen people during clinical trials from ibuprofen induced hepatitis. This drug (and other NSAIDs) are also well known for causing kidney failure, even with single recommended doses. The reason is again that these drugs reduce blood flow throughout the body, which can lead to poor perfusion to the organs. If the person already has poor perfusion due to problems such as diabetes, Raynaud’s, congestive heart failure, or from the use of other drugs that constrict blood vessels, NSAIDs can cut off enough of the blood supply to the organs to cause organ damage or death. This mechanism of action has been known since the drug was developed, yet the increased risk of heart attack and stroke was only recently admitted to. Therefore this leaves us with two possible conclusions. Either the clinical studies were really flawed, or they knew about this problem all of this time and chose to hide it from the general public in an effort to not hurt their drug sales. How drug studies are manipulated is explained more in the next topic.

Pharmaceutical drugs are generally considered stronger, and safer, though this is not always the case. Dried ginger, for example, was found in studies to be more effective than the pharmaceutical drug Dramamine in controlling motion sickness. And coleus forskohlii can stop an allergy/asthma attack as well as the dangerous pharmaceutical drug ephedrine HCl. Coleus forskohlii lowers pulse and blood pressure unlike ephedrine HCl, which can dangerously increase pulse and blood pressure.

One of the reasons that herbs may often outperform drugs, with fewer side effects, is because the herbs generally contain potentiating and balancing compounds. This is why I generally do not use concentrated, isolated (standardized) extracts, which may closely resemble drugs. As an example, alfalfa contains blood thinning coumarins, and balancing blood clotting vitamin K. Isolating, and standardizing, the coumarins in alfalfa could lead to dangerous bleeding disorders. The presence of vitamin K in the intact alfalfa herb prevents this danger. This is a common problem with pharmaceutical drugs. The drug companies isolate a single active component from a plant, and concentrate that compound, ignoring potentiating and protective compounds. This not only increases the risk of side effects, but also reduces the effectiveness due to the loss of synergistic compounds. Pau d’ arco for example contains 18 antiseptic anthraquinones and napthaquinones, as well as 5 anti-inflammatory compounds. The anthraquinones, and napthaquinones work synergistically, as do the 5 anti-inflammatory compounds. Isolating one compound out of either one of these groups reduces the overall effectiveness. In addition, herbs often have multiple active constituents that address a disorder from multiple directions.

Have herbs been researched thoroughly as pharmaceutical drugs are supposed to be?

Drug studies are commonly manipulated as well to make their drugs appear safe and effective. For instance, when you read through studies you will see that sometimes a specific strain of rat or mouse is used, or a dog, pig, rabbit, etc. The animal most likely to respond positively to their drug is chosen for the test to make the drug appear safe and effective. Though animal studies do not always correlate to human studies since their chemistry and metabolism is different than that of humans. Another common manipulative trick the drug companies use is to drop patients that die or do not respond to their drugs from the final results so the drugs will appear safer and more effective than they really are. This is especially common in the testing of anti-cancer agents. For instance, NOVA ran a program recently which was following two male cancer patients that were part of a study testing a new angiogenesis inhibitor derived from rat urine. The first man was dropped from the study because he died. At the end of the program they stated that the second man was dropped from the study because his “tumor grew beyond the parameters of the study”. In other words the drug failed, but they did not want the drug to appear ineffective. So they dropped the men from the study which clearly skews the testing in favor of the drug. Sometimes studies are misinterpreted or deliberately skewed by researchers to make herbs and supplements appear harmful or ineffective. For example, a study reported than vitamin C increased the risk of heart attacks. What the study actually found was that the vitamin C was thickening the arterial walls. This was misinterpreted as increasing the risk of heart attack by reducing blood flow. In truth the arteries have thicker, stronger walls, to handle the higher pressures. Vitamin C, along with other nutrients, help strengthen the arterial walls to prevent arterial damage, which could lead to arterial plaque build up or aneurysm. In another study it was claimed that St. Johnswort could reduce fertility because it deformed semen. This was grossly misinterpreted. What the study found was that when St. Johnswort extract was directly applied to the semen that it would deform the semen. Though nearly anything applied directly to semen will kill or deform it including soda, tomatoes, vinegar, etc. Ingestion of these substances is far from direct application. More recently studies on echinacea reported that it was ineffective for colds, despite numerous other studies to the contrary. So why the conflicting studies? Studies are often designed to prove a desired outcome. In the case of the echinacea studies the testing was severely flawed to get the desired outcome. First of all a weaker form of echinacea root was used, that should have been combined with the aerial parts of the plant for best results. Secondly, the subjects were severely under-dosed. The reported dosage was 300mg – a single standard capsule holds around 500mg. Recommended dosage of echinacea is generally at least 1500mg per dose. I read the study abstract and found several other errors. The study used 3 extracts, two derived from alcohol extractions, and the third from supercritical CO2 extraction. Echinacea should not be extracted by alcohol since this can denature the herb’s polysaccharides rendering them useless. Instead, the herb should be water extracted, then a small amount of alcohol added as a preservative. And supercritical CO2 extraction will remove certain compounds, such as alkaloids and essential oils, but not polysaccharides. So it makes perfect sense that none of the extracts were effective. This does not mean echinacea is ineffective, it means that proper, un-manipulated studies need to be performed.

Again, the majority of modern day knowledge comes from thousands of years of human studies. One of the oldest medical systems in the world is the Chinese medical system. Before anything was ever given to the Emperor, all substances were thoroughly tested on human prisoners. Therefore, there was no financial incentive to manipulate the studies as is commonly done with modern medicines. Other old medical systems, such as Ayurvedic medicine, and Native American medicine stemmed from a need for survival, not for financial needs. Therefore, even though this research was not completed through clinical studies or double blind studies, the studies were not manipulated making them cleaner and more reliable than most of the current studies being done.

Why do we recommend taking the herbs on an empty stomach?

Most manufacturers recommend their products be taken with meals because in our litigious society they are afraid of being sued if someone gets an upset stomach. The problem is that meals greatly reduce the absorption of many herbs, or block their absorption. For instance high protein, high fat, and tannins found in green tea, oolong tea, black tea, coffee, and certain herbs, such as oak bark all precipitate various phytochemicals preventing them from being used by the body. This is a very common mistake I see in many formulations. For example, a product designer may read somewhere that uva ursi is good for reducing blood sugar in diabetics. This is true if the herb is used by itself. Although, if combined with other herbs the high tannin content of the uva ursi will precipitate many of the phytochemicals of the other herbs in the formula reducing the effectiveness of the formula. If a person has trouble taking the herbs in a dose of powder, they can mix the herbs in a little juice or apple sauce. The carbohydrates in these foods will not interfere with the absorption. Applesauce, or a thick juice such as mango, pear, or papaya nectar work especially well due to their thick nature. If the person is a diabetic and they need something thick to help get the powder down then I recommend unsweetened cinnamon applesauce. Cinnamon lowers blood sugar, and will help compensate for the small amount of natural sugars that will be present in the applesauce. Personally, I take powders by placing them under my tongue so they will not end up in my lungs. Then I take a big mouthful of water, swish the powders around and swallow them down. Quick, easy, and no messy glass to clean up afterward.

What about shelf life?

Tinctures generally have a longer shelf life than powders. Most herbs have a shelf life of at least 3 to 5 years. In some cases the shelf life is even longer. Only a few herbs, such as Echinacea and yohimbe, have very short shelf lives when dried.

Do we use organic herbs?

No, for several reasons. The term organic is rather misleading in many cases. People tend to think of organic as being free of herbicides, pesticides, and other dangerous chemicals. Does an organic label really mean that the herb is free of these dangerous chemicals? Not necessarily. The biggest problem with this is that most organic farms irrigate their crops with surface water. This water starts as rain and snow in the mountains, and travels down past towns, cities, farms, freeways, etc. picking up pollutants on its journey. This water is then used to irrigate the plants, where the plants absorb these toxins. Irrigation with ground water does not guarantee cleanliness either since chemicals can seep into groundwater. Farms are often located near major roadways as well, which can lead to contamination from exhaust emissions. For instance cattle raised on pastures near major roadways have been found with high lead levels. The source of the lead was never questioned; however, it was from years and years of leading gasoline, which was excreted in the exhaust. The lead, being heavy, settled in the surrounding soil where it was picked up by plants, and eaten by the cattle. This is important to keep in mind considering how many produce farms are also situated right next to major roadways. Even though gasoline is no longer leaded, the many years of lead deposits are still going to be present, and are still being absorbed by plants and animals. Therefore, I feel that wildcrafted herbs are cleaner than even organic herbs. Wildcrafted herbs are herbs that are grown by Nature, not man. These plants are generally harvested from relatively clean areas far from potential contamination sources, and are normally watered through rainwater, dew, snow, and clean water rivers and streams. Another major advantage of wildcrafted herbs over organically grown herbs is that they are generally more powerful. When stressed, plants concentrate their various chemical constituents. For instance, if you want to make your hot pepper plants produce hotter peppers the plants can be stressed by withholding watering until they start to droop. Then the plants are watered again to perk them up, and water can be withheld again. Stressing the pepper plant like this causes the plant to concentrate its essential oil making the pepper fruits much hotter. Nature can be very hard on plants with extreme heat and cold, drought conditions, attacks by insects, and diseases, etc. All of these stresses cause the plant to increase their levels of phytochemicals to help them deal with these stresses. Sterol levels increase to help the plants adapt to the stresses of temperature. The plant generates alkaloids and antiseptics to help ward off insect attacks and diseases. Sugars, such as polysaccharides, are food sources for the plant and help with water retention. These, and other phytochemicals, have medicinal effects on humans. Sterols aid the adrenals in humans, lower cholesterol, modulate the immune response, reduce prostate enlargement in men, are anti-tumor, etc. Alkaloids have an extremely wide variety of effects on the body depending on the alkaloid. For example, the alkaloid ephedrine elevates cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which counters allergic responses. The alkaloids caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine all block cAMP breakdown prolonging its beneficial effects. Caffeine stimulates epinephrine release, increasing the pulse, and blood pressure, as well as increasing energy, provided that the adrenal glands are not run down from the use of such stimulants or other reasons. In addition, caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, preventing adenosine from doing its normal job of relaxing the body. Polysaccharides are long chain sugar molecules that stimulate the immune system through the activation of white blood cells. Polysaccharides also aid in the regeneration of cartilage, feed the intestinal flora, and have been shown to be anti-tumor. Other phytochemicals that can benefit humans include essential oils, phytoestrogens, amines, quinones, flavonoids, terpenes, saponins, etc. When plants are coddled with farming practices, the plants do not generate as high of levels of phytochemicals, rendering them less effective for medicinal purposes. Organically grown herbs are more likely to have higher levels of bacterial and fungal contamination as well. This has been a major problem with organically grown produce since chemical controls are not used. Again, nature does its own control by exposing the plants to various stresses, so the plant generates its own high level of natural antiseptics.

Numerous herbs are not cultivated; therefore, are only available as wildcrafted. This is especially true of herbs that are slow growing, such as trees or many desert plants, or that have specific growing conditions, or limited growing areas that make them difficult if not impossible to cultivate.

How long do the formulas last?

The tubs of powder last an average of 1½ to 2 months for use by one individual at a recommended dose of ½ teaspoon 3 times daily, which is the recommendation for the majority of the formulas.

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